The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

Students with bachelor’s degrees are returning to college

A student walks in line to the Admissions Office service window in the Student Services Building on Friday, May 17. El Camino College’s admissions for returning students with bachelor’s degrees is at an all-time high. Career changes are becoming more common amongst this collective of students, however enrolling in non-credit courses for recreation is bringing more people back to school. (Isabelle Ibarra | The Union)

Returning students with bachelor’s degrees are continuing their education at El Camino College.

Whether it be for a career change or to learn a new skill, these students and others alike are becoming a common occurrence on campus.

From fall 2019 to fall 2023, over 30% of the 20,000 students on campus at El Camino already had obtained a bachelor’s degree prior to returning back to school. This is higher than several other community colleges including San Diego Mesa College and Pierce College.

“Are they here for a career or for enrichment is what we often look at,” El Camino’s former Dean of Enrollment Services Robin Dreizler said. “A lot depends on their goal.”

One reason many return is due to the fact that their degree no longer fits the requirements of their job or they chose to follow a different career path.

“I was just working a dead-end job and ended up back to El Camino after I finished with my associate’s,” El Camino Student Success Coach for the First Year Experience Program, who is currently working to obtain his bachelor’s degree in sociology, Jose Vazquez said.

“I felt at home in the sense of helping students, so I wanted to pursue a career that would put me in a position to continue helping students,” he said.

Other students may return just to learn a new language or other particular skills, such as woodworking or welding.

“We have some people come back after receiving their bachelor’s just because they love learning,” El Camino Registrar for Admissions and Records Lillian Justice said.

The comparison between enrollments in non-credit to credit courses at El Camino has a 62% difference, with non-credit courses showing more registrations from returning students, though many are taking courses as credit counting courses though they are not focused on GPA.

Overall people who work in admission services say a student’s prior academic history during the time at which they received their bachelor’s degree is not something that is highlighted when they choose to re-enroll in college, including at El Camino.

“As a community college, we generally don’t monitor the success of somebody who has a degree. We generally look more at factors such as age, race, ethnicity or what services they have used to help them because our goal isn’t to recruit but to encourage,” Dreizler said.

In the fall semester of 2023, the largest ethnic group population enrolled with a bachelor’s degree at El Camino was Hispanic people, with a total of 139 students. That makes up around 40% of the collective bachelor student population at El Camino.

Prioritizing student success, no matter their academic background, is something that the El Camino administration wants to emphasize to incoming students and those already enrolled at the college.

“The best advice I ever received and want to share is to just find what you like and find someone to pay for it,” Leonid Rachman, a coordinator of the International Student Program at El Camino, said. “A degree is not enough, you have to have the skill to find a job.”

It has become more common for students to take a non-traditional path to enroll in college; meaning they do not come directly from high school but rather take months or years off and then return to school later on.

“Many students work, have families and go to school, which creates tremendous time pressures. Students also have financial pressures,” Student Services Representative from San Diego Mesa College Trina Larson said.

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