During the past year, Pima Community College (PCC) has been in the headlines a lot for negative reasons. Of course, that negative attention is warranted thanks to behavior primarily from administrative nonsense. Sadly, the negative shadow extends over the entire college, including teachers and staff who honestly work hard to educate our young and older students.
Being placed on probation earlier this year, one might think PCC would be doing a lot more work to repair the damaged image, and make things easy on the students who are still willing to enroll.
At the beginning of the fall semester, PCC reported enrollment had dropped 4.3 percent after increasing by 2.9 percent in 2010.
My teenager was one of the students who chose PCC to start her college career. She has aspirations to become a special needs teacher, and was excited to start this new chapter.
However, our teenager is unique. She was in the foster care system for a short time after losing her mom when she was 15. This puts her in a different demographic than most students. While she was adopted by us, there are programs and laws in place that say our finances can’t be used against her when enrolling in college. That means she’s eligible for a variety of programs because statistically children coming from a background such as hers are more likely to quit college.
In the college’s defense, as my teenager was getting the ball rolling, she filled out one document incorrectly, which apparently for Pima means huge punishment for the student.
We submitted more than one corrected document, with one of them strangely getting lost. Then, with her being eligible for the program Education and Training Voucher program for Independent students (ETV), we needed the college to sign a document saying she was enrolled. One of these papers was also lost.
Administrators contacted us regarding her case, which was becoming more and more complicated by the day, didn’t seem to care and made it clear because she has to make a correction and there were “red flags” they would not fill out the ETV document and she would be pushed to the end of the line and would have to wait up to six weeks for them to re-review her case, rather than just getting it settled and moving forward with other student cases.
Every person we called to get assistance seemed uninterested, and was unhelpful in making sure this student’s first college experience ran as smoothly as possible despite a few speed bumps.
Long story short, ETV even grew tired of waiting for PCC. They had us get them other documentation of her being enrolled, and agreed to help her pay the first payment for tuition and books. However, they couldn’t move fast enough either. We, her parents, did not want her to lose her classes because of PCC. We paid the first payment and got her books. Other students might not have such assistance.
Two weeks after the semester began, PCC finally processed everything. This should not have taken so long and there was no excuse for how financial services and other offices behaved throughout this process. This is one example of many where PCC should be working harder to work with students.
Then, this week we hear more about administrators at the downtown offices being fired because of how they were treating veterans.
As stated at the beginning, all of this continues to overshadow the excellent education a student can obtain at Pima. I got my first degree there. My husband went there. We loved the teachers, we loved the school. So far, our teenager who struggled in high school is absolutely loving her teachers.
If I were an administrator at PCC, I would humble up, make some changes and appreciate those students who are the reason you exist.