Sixty units: Still doable in two years?

The old adage about life being more about the journey than the destination may not always seem true for college students. The trend of students taking more time to graduate from community colleges and universities has become increasingly more widespread.

Statistics have shown that California students recognize the premium placed on improving skill sets with higher education before entering the job market, and enrollment has remained high.

According to the Community College League of California, 24 percent of all students enrolled in community colleges nationwide are enrolled in a California community college.

The CCLC also states that Americans with an associate degree earn $400,000 more in their lifetime than those with just a high school diploma.

But some students have been prolonging their time in college beyond their original expectations, blaming the recession and economic hardships.

First-year Santa Monica College student Jenna Crowley, who has attended other community colleges since graduating from high school in 2009, never intended to be studying at a community college, and certainly never intended for her studies to exceed two years.

“I took all AP classes and scored over 600 on the English portion of my SAT,” said Crowley. “I got accepted into every school I wanted, but I wasn’t eligible for financial aid.”

Crowley has still been struggling to succeed while trying to pay for her community college classes.

“I was working nine-to-five at a very demanding law firm, and because I was living on my own, I could only fit one class into my schedule,” said Crowley.

“I feel bad for my graduating class,” said Crowley. “We were thrown into this crazy economic system, and expected to go to school and work at the same time.”

Dan Nannini, the SMC transfer center faculty leader, said he was unconvinced that students are taking longer to graduate or transfer.

“I’ve never touted SMC as a two-year college,” said Nannini. “I always say it’s a 60-unit college; that’s what it takes to transfer.”

Nannini questioned student preparation and personal responsibility, and said that the ultimate deciding factor in transfer speed is student motivation.

“Many students need to discern between institutional issues and personal issues,” said Nannini.

Nannini acknowledged that full-time students with no outside obligations have a distinct advantage in transferring over those with multiple priorities.

“Motivated students with the means are getting it done,” said Nannini. “It’s the student with the rigid schedule and kids that struggles. Those that want it get it; those that don’t will get there eventually.”

First-year SMC student Leetal Ohayon is the archetype for a quick transferring student—a high school graduate, with transferable AP credits and a decided major. Ohayon agreed with Nannini’s philosophy.

“I’m not the type to settle even though I’ll be held back,” said Ohayon. “I’m still doing something to ultimately reach my goal.”

With recent cuts to class offerings and the cancellation of the upcoming winter session, students looking to transfer may face adversity in the coming months, but according to Nannini, students should be able to remain on track.

“It just takes a little more creativity,” said Nannini.