The California Commu-nity Colleges system is vast: 112 colleges and 50-plus centers serving about 2.5 million students annually. There are many exemplary programs and educational practices, and a virtual renaissance is taking place in our colleges' physical plants as communities and the state invest nearly $17 billion in rebuilding.
Recently I went through a professional transition, leaving a job and a staff I loved to assume greater responsibility and new opportunities. While I was enthusiastic to accept a new challenge, I was proud to have been a part of a great admissions team at a great institution.
Recently, criticism has been lodged against community colleges for taking longer than three years to graduate some of their students. In neighboring Massachusetts, for example, where only 16.4 percent of community college students graduate within three years, shock waves have found their way into The Boston Globe, where misguided critics alleged that community colleges are taking too long to do their job.
By now we've all heard that the Commission on the Future of Higher Education may recommend standardized tests as a way to compare and rank institutions. Such tests would likely attempt to measure general reasoning and communication skills. The commission's intention is undoubtedly good, but can such an endeavor be successful?
We live in an on-demand, instant gratification society, and the old ways of doing business--paper, faxes, and even the overnight delivery of documents--no longer suffice. They're slow, expensive, and don't meet the delivery expectations of many customers. Universities are feeling this pinch as much as any other business. Paper is also difficult to secure and is too easily counterfeited.