According to the California Community College’s Chancellor’s Office, approximately ten percent of students enrolled in the California Community College system have already earned a Bachelor’s Degree. They are returning to community colleges in an effort to gain the skills and knowledge they presently lack for future career advancement.
A living example is Eui-jo Marquez who graduated from high school in 1997 and was the first in her family to go to college. “I was also the first in my family to finish traditional high school the first time around. Sometimes I find it hard to know what to do, because it feels like no one before me has done this.” Her path was very different from the ideal: which is espoused as finishing college in 4-years, earning a degree, and immediately getting a job. Although Eui-Jo was accepted to University of Riverside (UCR) right after high school graduation, she along with a large portion of college freshman, was undisciplined and unfocused; she even admits to failing a class. After the first quarter, she began to feel guilty about wasting her parent’s money. “I transferred to Riverside City College (RCC) after the first quarter at UCR. It was much cheaper, and I thought if I'm going to screw up at least it won't cost my parents so much.”
“After a few years, I decided to join the Army. When I got out of the Army in 2005, I decided to attend the fall semester at RCC to take some of the required courses in an effort to transfer to a California State University (CSU). I was at RCC for the second time until winter of 2006, and then I transferred to California State University, Fullerton (CSUF).”
Eui-Jo graduated from CSUF with a Bachelor’s of Arts in English and Communications Journalism, in August of 2009.
Eui-jo states, “I had just graduated from CSUF, and I was looking for a job in writing or editing and layout at a magazine or newspaper. I decided to keep myself busy and sharpen my skills while I looked for a job.
I took a couple of courses at Riverside City College again for InDesign and Photoshop. My goal was to get better at doing page layout in an effort to strengthen my skills for job at a newspaper or magazine. This past winter has been hard because I still couldn't find a job, but I took comfort in the courses I was taking. I felt like I was still working and accomplishing something instead of sitting around doing nothing.”
Eui-Jo has very modest and realistic career goals. “I want a career I love. A career where I feel I am helping people. I don't want to make a ton of money. I want to go to work everyday, do something I love, and come home at a reasonable hour to the people I love.” Her advice for other community college students, especially those who already have degrees and are looking for jobs is this: “Stay positive. I'm sure other people in my situation are feeling a little defeated. I thought getting my BA meant I was guaranteed a job. After I found out that was not the case, I was pretty down for a while. My instructor at RCC has been impressed with my work ethic and abilities, and he lets me know when job opportunities arise. So don't give up!”
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