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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Twin Takes: Pima Community College

All students deserve opportunities

With tuition climbing higher every year at the UA, many students are discovering the wonder in the desert called Pima Community College. Affordable tuition, smaller class sizes and more individual attention have made Pima an enticing alternative. However, during a community meeting last month, Pima’s governing board voiced their intent to change the admission requirements for Pima, a decision that would create a major roadblock for many students seeking a higher education.

Currently, you must only be 16 years old to register for a class at Pima, though this requirement can be waived with parental permission. Under the proposed changes, a prospective student must have a high school diploma or have passed the General Educational Development test and must pass reading, writing and math assessments at a seventh grade level. Sylvia Lee, a former president of the Northwest Campus, estimated that this change will prevent about 2,300 students from attending Pima.

What happens to those students who do not have a high school diploma? Studying to take the GED can be incredibly intimidating. According to education-portal.com, only 30 percent of test takers actually pass the GED the first time. Then, depending on the state, you may have to jump through hoops that could include waiting months or paying a hefty fee to take the test again. Some people will not be able to afford the fee or be able to wait. Because the test carries so much weight, many students are discouraged by a fear of failure.

Many community colleges, including Pima, offer GED equivalency programs. These programs allow students to complete a series of courses at a community college that will grant them a GED.  Instead of stressing and cramming for a difficult test, community colleges currently provide a pathway for non-traditional students to master the necessary knowledge.  Now all of this is subject to change.

As long as students are eager to learn and have a desire to better themselves, they should be allowed to. There is no reason why those willing shouldn’t have the opportunity. That doesn’t mean they deserve a shot at a major university if they don’t have the qualifications, but Pima is a far cry from that. Pima is the haven for those seeking to rejuvenate their educational endeavors.

Wesley Smyth is a junior studying ecology and evolutionary biology. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

Community college not for all

Last month, Pima Community College’s governing board stated they were considering changing the admission requirements for the institution. Instead of admitting anyone willing to pay tuition, Pima is seeking to raise the bar by creating higher admission standards.  The proposed admission criteria includes a high school diploma or General Educational Development test in conjunction with the completion of assessments in math, reading and writing. Bearing that in mind, if these new proposals are passed by the board, Pima will receive a boost in its reputation and credibility.

Perhaps the most controversial suggestion is the GED/high school diploma requirement. Many people are upset that they may need a high school diploma to enter college. But why should they be?

Can pilots fly planes without their licenses? Why should you even graduate high school considering that Pima will still accept you with or without your diploma? Pima is a community college, emphasis on college. Entrance requirements need to be created in order to establish legitimacy.

Pima has defined itself as a community college for all students. To appease everyone, Pima provides many upper division classes and an array of remedial classes. But being accomodating to students doesn’t mean your institution has to be Good Feelings College. In the words of Scott Stewart, a Pima board member, “”It’s Pima Community College, not Pima Community Middle School.””

Although it’s important to help every student, how much service do they need to provide? With the addition of the entrance assessments and diploma/GED requirement, perhaps Pima will be able to remedy this situation. Perhaps it won’t be so embarrassing to say that you go to Pima anymore.

This could also be financially beneficial for Pima.  Pima Chancellor Roy Flores believes that many of the lowest tier remedial classes could be cut out. With those classes gone, Pima could establish a level playing ground for their students. They could expect their incoming students to be capable and successful at the college level. Then, with some of the unassigned funds, perhaps more efficient programs could be supported and created.

Although many students may be initially denied acceptance, there will still be plenty of students from the UA and Tucson that will view Pima as a cheap higher education alternative. Pima is not a grade school, it’s a college. It’s time to start proving that.

Taylor Smyth is a biology junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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