Reducing College of the Sequoias dropout rate

FRESNO, Calif.

The COS president says the new changes they're making will encourage more students to complete their classwork and earn a degree.

College of the Sequoias President Bill Scroggins says during a time of budget cutbacks and record enrollment, gone are the days where people can take an occasional community college course without setting themselves on a career path.

Dr. Bill Scroggins said, "I think that the state budget is affecting access. The number of students we're able to serve is really going down so what it means is community colleges are no longer an open access institution."

It also means cutting back on classes that don't generate money. COS has set in motion a number of priority rules for enrolled students. They boil down to making sure students are committed to leaving the school with a degree, certificate or acceptance into a four-year institution.

The changes reflect not only today's tough economic times -- but recommendations from the Institute on Higher Education Learning and Policy, which says California is lacking when it comes to people with higher education degrees and community colleges need to do more to help students.

Scroggins said, "Which essentially about 35% of our students by her definition complete a degree or certificate or are successful in transferring."

To help out the other 65%, effective immediately all COS students are required to attend a mandatory orientation at the beginning of the semester. They must attend the first day of class in order to stay enrolled in that class, and must create an education plan with a counselor before their second semester.

Most students on campus told us they think the new requirements are fair.

Ana Herrera said, "You gotta decide sooner or later what you want to do so if there's something there doing to enforce it then that's good."

COS has already cut 15% of its course load for the Fall ... right now the school is looking at a $5 million budget deficit.

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