Newspaper Archive of
Bellevue College
Bellevue, WA
February 21, 1986     Bellevue College
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February 21, 1986

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Page 4 On Open Door is key to success by Anne Passey and Todd A. Schafer Advocate staff The door is open; anyone can attend a community college. Two year colleges were originally created for students ,who could not afford the tuition or meet the admission requirements of four year schools. Maintaining the open door policy is one goal of Washington state's community college system, but the funding crisis in higher education may make that goal difficult to maintain, according to Dr. John Terry, executive director of the state board for community college education. About 8 percent of the nation's com- munity colleges have closed their open door admissions policies, according to a recent study conducted by the National Council on Black Affairs and the American College Testing Program. Florida now requires all college-bound students to take a, basic skills test. Today the reasons for attending two year colleges are as diverse as the communities they serve. They are seen as: • a launching pad into college life. • a place to gain needed education for job advancement. • a place to gain needed skills when forced into the work force. Funding Cuts Community colleges serve students who must work part time while going to school. Recent cuts in financial aid have impacted low-income students and minorities. Minority enrollment in community colleges nationwide has dropped five percent in the last two years. In Washington state lack of funds means minority affairs specialists have been cut in many community colleges. "I don't think we've been helpful to minorities," said Terry. "We are not providing the same level of support as we did five years ago because we do not have the funds to buy the human resources necessary. It's a system-wide problem." Despite these problems, the community college system rates high in preparing its students, according to Terry. He said an evaluation of the quality of education should be judged by: • how well students do when they transfer to four year institutions. • how well do they do in outside employment. • how well can they compete with other students in specific areas. "Nursing_students graduating from community colleges do very well in comparison with university nursing pro- grams," stated Terry. "But the question really is, how well do we do with the least able students, the students with academic deficiencies," he said. Community colleges cannot make the same academic assumptions that a univer- sity can. With open admissions anyone can enter regardless of their academic abilities, or disabilities. "Some students cannot read and don't understand what they read," said Terry. ''We have many students who may not have graduated from high school while the university has admission standards as high as 3.45 grade point averages." Basic Skills Here at the College programs are designed to help students gain basic skills. The General Educational Development (GED) Program meets the needs of students who were unable to complete high school. "It's a way for students to gain basic litera63" and practice taking tests," said James Bennett, cheirman of the educational development and health sciences division. Two or three sections of GED classes are offered each quarter, and they are rarely cancelled due to low enrollment, said Bennett. vocational programs are available for students seeking an Associate of Arts degree. The Business Division offers a two- year program concentrating on accounting, law, computer science and general business. Additionally, a business administration program is available for students wishing to transfer to universities. Many returning students who have already earned degrees in other fields are attracted to the business programs because they need the skills to survive in a business oriented society, according to Barbara Zarkowski, business administration pro- gram chairperson. Students use computer equipment in the College's Physics Lab. From worlds apart, stud by CJ Anderson Advocate staff A homemaker's skills range from those of an ambassador to a zookeeper, and translating such skills into paid employment can be a challenge. The Displaced Homemakers Program is designed to assist women who must enter or re-enter the job market. Divorce forced Diana Sigalla to find employment after 30 years of marriage and rearing four children. Three decades of homemaking experience qualified her for a job, but not in the estimation of the employers who turned her down during interviews. After more than 15 rejections, Sigalla joined the Displaced Homemakers Program in 1984. "Part of the problem was my own defeat was showing up in the resumes I was writing. The greatest thing the program gave me was a feeling of self-worth," said Sigalla. Today Sigalla oversees many aspects of the Puget Sound Blood Project's Bellevue Center. "I can't believe I was actually out there looking for janitorial-type work, but that's the way I felt after being rejected all the time," said Sigalla. Sigalla performs multi-faceted duties at the Blood Center, from co-ordinating volunteers to soliciting donations in the business community, and troubleshooting situations that arise at the center. "It's a terrific job, a people job. Everyone who walks in the door is a giver," said Sigalla, who credits the Displaced Home- makers Program with providing the support she needed to find satisfying and stimulating employment. ohaa sigalla Facts about community col • 155,000 attend community colleges in Wa • 55% are Women • 12% are minorities • average age is 30 years old • many work full time • many are low-income; need low priced ed • 46% attend academic courses so they can I • 42% take vocational training • 12% are making up high school and other • community colleges have 83,300 l;dll-tim the state's general fund outlays. • U of W alone receives 5.8% • four year schools combined are receiving