California’s Community College System was established over 100 yeas ago with the help of the “Upward Extension Law” adopted in 1907. Today, it is the world’s largest higher education system with 112 community colleges, serving nearly three million students, and under the direction of 72 community college districts. California’s community colleges are the state’s largest provider of workforce training programs. They train 80 percent of all California firefighters, law enforcement officers and emergency medical technicians.
One of the 72 community college districts in California is the Los Rios Community College District which serves the Placerville area with the El Dorado Center of Folsom Lake College. The El Dorado Center is a beautiful and modern 14 acre campus featuring state-of-the-art classrooms. The Placerville campus serves approximately 2,500 students with a full range of transfer and vocational programs and is well-positioned to meet the educational needs of the area’s rural population.
One of the primary features of community colleges are the vocational programs that allow students the opportunity to earn an occupational certificate or degree within a two-year period. The El Dorado Center has an excellent variety of occupational programs, including Fire Technology, Water Management, Wastewater Management, Human Services, and Medical Lab Technology.
Overall, a total of 29 degrees or certificates from Accounting to Real Estate are offered by Folsom Lake College occupational programs. In addition to gaining a job skill, vocational training will help students avoid the mountain of debt associated with attending a four-year university.
Unfortunately, since 2008 course offerings at California community colleges have declined by about 15 percent. As a result, enrollment at community colleges has declined by an alarming 300,000 students. With reduced course sections, even well-prepared and motivated high school grads are often unable to gain access to community college courses.
In a statement issued on June 27, 2012, California Community College President Jack Scott said that “colleges will have to make more cuts to programs under the new state budget agreement.” He went on to say that more cuts will “push some colleges to the brink financially.” Given the long history of success, and the vital role that community colleges have played in their communities, that is a stunning announcement.
The Los Rios Community College District and the administration at the El Dorado Center are committed to making every effort possible to minimize the impacts of budget cuts. New students are being advised to be diligent and goal-oriented. Two popular resources for new students are the “Steps to Success” and the “10 Tips for First Year College Students” that are available on their Website. To promote the success of its students, Folsom Lake College also offers Academic Success Workshops which cover everything from “Choosing a Major” to “Managing Your Finances.”
It is clear that Folsom Lake College administrators are very concerned about the possibility of an additional 7.5 percent budget cut if Governor Brown’s tax initiative fails in November. California has always been a place where high school students are promised that if they stay in school, work hard and graduate, a spot in a public university or community college will be available to them.
Community colleges have served Californians with distinction for over 100 years. The benefits to our economy have turned our community college system into a gold mine of opportunities for its students. If a new community college student in the Placerville area would like to know what it felt like to discover gold, just follow the introductory roadmap called “Steps to Success at Folsom Lake College.” For more information on the El Dorado Center of Folsom Lake College, go to flc.losrios.edu.
Marc Boyd was a 2012 candidate for Assembly District 5. He is currently a substitute teacher in Calaveras County, and is a former small business owner.