Lifelong Educator Paulette Chaffee Comments on California Expanding Community College Baccalaureate Programs


Many states around the country are looking to community colleges to fill the labor gap. Lifelong educator Paulette Chaffee comments on California’s efforts to do this by expanding community college baccalaureate programs.

Fullerton, CA – In an effort to help fill the large labor gap, California is working on expanding the community college baccalaureate in the state. 

Many proponents of the plan say that adding to the list of bachelor’s degrees currently offered by community colleges will go a long way to training the workforce in California, and lifelong educator Paulette Chaffee agrees.

Community colleges typically only offer two-year associate’s degrees, requiring students to move onto a traditional four-year college to obtain a bachelor’s degree. However, many underserved students will attend community colleges to keep their education costs down, so expanding the to offer more bachelor’s degrees will likely create a more equitable and inclusive higher education environment in the state.

A typical bachelor’s degree costs more than $13,000 per year at the of California or about $10,500 per year at community colleges. 

Through a pilot program launched in 2014, 15 of California’s 116 community colleges offer some bachelor’s degrees. That pilot was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom back in October, which will see the program offer 30 new bachelor’s degrees every year.

There are 23 states that offer baccalaureate degrees through their community colleges. It’s a way that many states are looking to serve a wider base of students to provide better access to these degrees.

In addition to expanding baccalaureate programs, 10 states began to expand their workforce training programs at their community colleges since the pandemic started in early 2020. Through these programs, the states began to pay students’ tuition if they were pursuing a field that was deemed to be “in-demand.” 

Taking that one step further, California’s Orange County announced a partnership earlier this year with Fullerton College. The Drone Piloting is aimed toward the youth in the county and will allow teens and young adults between 16 and 24 years old to gain early access to emerging jobs in STEM fields for up-and-coming industries.

As Paulette Chaffee explains, the will allow students to participate in Fullerton College’s TECH 150 Basic Piloting Course, where they will work on flight management, piloting safety and skills, and the proper usage of and care for drones. 

All of these programs are working to provide more equitable access to higher education to all of California’s youth. 


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