It took nearly two decades for Promise Roberts to earn a college degree. She first enrolled at Antelope Valley College in 1994, earning an associate’s degree in 2013 while raising children and building a hairdressing business.
But, she said, “I wanted more.” In 2022, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in airframe manufacturing technology and landed a job near home without ever leaving the community college.
More and more of California’s 116 community colleges — struggling to remake themselves under pressure from declining enrollment — are venturing into higher education territory traditionally reserved for four-year institutions, offering bachelor’s degrees that lead to careers in high-demand fields: dental hygiene, bio-manufacturing, automotive technology. In 2021 the state authorized community colleges to offer specialized degrees as long as they did not duplicate those offered by Cal State and University of California campuses.
But the new offerings have stirred friction among Cal State University administrators, who have pushed back on some proposals, arguing they too closely resemble bachelor’s programs offered by Cal State, a skirmish between the two giant systems that highlights their territorial competition for students — and shortcomings in the way the new degrees are approved. Continued…