Monday, June 8, 2009

Contra Costa College

(If this post is crazy coherent it's because I'm in essay mode from my Soc final exam, and if it's not it's because I have been sleeping very short shifts for several days)

I am enrolling in Sculpture 1 at Contra Costa College. Now, three years ago I would have been elated. Highschool students were not permitted to take non academic courses, and incidentally my highschools offered nothing in the way of Art instruction. (I think I might have been more comfortable leaping into the Art major here instead of bouncing from bio to econ to art, or even going to art school, if I had taken a studio course at some point.) However, now? Well, now I can't imagine going back to a community college, as an (admittedly college age) adult. It's almost unthinkable. It's like moving home, or retaking 10th grade history. Why on earth is it happening to me?

Well. It's not complicated, but it's complicated to explain. Basically, the art department here is on a pared down budget. Art classes are very hard to get in to compared to nearly all the other courses at UC, because students from all departments are interested, and also there are a lot of art majors compared to the funding, for some reason. One campus-wide repercussion is that to get your General Education A (Arts) requirement, most students can't get into an art class (not even the three art courses for non art majors, because they are studio sized rather than lecture) so they take theater arts or I suppose art criticism or art history. For art students the low number of spots in courses means that there are additional restrictions placed on enrollment. lower division courses are reserved for pre art students, and once you declare as art you can not enrol in them. This is a challenge because you only take 3 studio courses before declaring, and the upper level courses you can take are limited by which intro classes you have as prerequisites. If you have 3 interests, you're fine. But if, like me, you are interested in more than 3 art forms, or at least want the option of pursuing an interest in another form, you're stuck. For me, I could take another lower div course and just put off declaring my major another quarter, but of course I am very excited to start the upper level courses as soon as I am able. (yet another difficulty is that pre art studio courses are all held at the same time MWF or the same time TThSa, meaning that the most you can take concurrently is 2.)

I carefully went over the course list (all the courses there might be before I graduate) and the course schedule (the courses that are planned for fall and winter) and identified the courses I would love to take before I graduate. The only gap between the lower div courses I am taking and the upper div ones I am dying to take is in sculpture.

So hence therefore hereto forthwith I am going to magically fit in some sculpture credits via community college.

I went to a CCC college when I took Japanese at DVC, so I already had a profile, and I spent a little bit of time logging in. My password hint was "what color is my helmet?" which I eventually correctly guessed was "sparkly". I looked at the fees, even though I know how much they are, just because it makes me happy. It is $20 per unit (down from $26 when I was enrolled and, um, attending for free.*) So, my art course is going to cost $60 plus a $9 materials fee. Summer courses at UCSC are about $1000 each. I bet Sculpture 1 is better here, but probably not 15 times better. CA subsidizes our community colleges a lot better than the UCs manage, I think.,

Although, my username is cvendewalle135, and my student portal is for Caitlin R. Van de Walle. And the course description says it will encourage students to research and sculpt in the style of our own ethnic background, as well as "subtractual" sculpture. At least make sure everything in your description is a word, you know? But it's easy to be too hard on community colleges. They take on a big task. They have to provide courses to everyone from minors to retired folks. And they have to fill a lot of purposes, some of which are mutually exclusive. They have to be suitable for those who are newly learning english, they have to prepare students for work, they have to be the most remedial thing available to adults wanting new skills and they have to get students ready for 4 year colleges. And they have to do it for almost free.

You know, I'm enrolling at CCC without ever having seen the campus? Community colleges fill a weird role.

*I just worked out that since I took ~30 (semester) units, I saved $780. That's pretty neat.

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