BC demographics change

Keith Kaczmarek, Reporter

Bakersfield College’s demographic has changed quite a bit in the last 10 years.

According to data available on BC’s website, the most dramatic change has been the growth of students identifying themselves as Hispanic/Latino and the decrease of the proportion of students identifying themselves as White.

“We are an old school, but our ethnicity falls into our service area,” said Amber Chiang, director of marketing and public relations for BC. “Our enrollment reflects the community. We are doing what we are supposed to do, serve the community.”

In 2002, Hispanic/Latino students were only 36.4 percent of the student population, but in 2012 this group has grown to 56 percent. White students fell from 45.1 percent to 28 percent. This 2012 data roughly matches Bakersfield’s 2012 demographic statistics on the city’s website.

Chiang credits various changes in the student body to the changing economy of California, and how a tough economy sends people back to BC.

“When you are talking about 10 years ago, there was a different job market. You could get a job paying $20-30 an hour right out of high school. Why would you go to school when you could do that?” said Chiang.

“That was the reality then. People need Bakersfield College now to retrain,” she said. “When California recovers, we’ll be back down to thirteen thousand students and we’ll need to actively recruit. It’s cyclical.”

Students on campus seemed to agree.

“I wanted to better my future,” said Tuesday Smith, 19, a student. “I’m coming for nursing. It’s a really good feeling because I didn’t know what to do, and now I do.”

“My parents highly recommended I come to college,” said Josh Cruz, 21. “I want to move up to something and going to BC is a big difference.”

Cruz also noted that his mother was going back to school to get a degree in Child Development and stay competitive in the job market.

“You can’t get a job now,” said Tawntannisha Thompson, Student Government Association president, as she spoke about the need for degrees to get better jobs. “I had a job where I was teaching people my job, but because they had a degree, they were making more money than me.”

As a mother of children currently attending BC, she also sees a difference in students today. “They want more out of life, and they know they can’t get it from working at McDonald’s. Working at McDonald’s is not going to cut it.”

Other ethnic groups remained relatively constant or changed little. Students identifying themselves as African Americans hovered around 7 percent, Asian/Filipino students dropped from 5.7 percent to 5 percent, Pacific-Islanders hovered from 0.2 percent to almost 0 percent, and American Indians fluctuated from 1.9 percent to 1 percent.

A new category that was not in the 2002 data was students identifying themselves as “Two or More Races,” and this group consisted of 3 percent of the student population (also matching Bakersfield demographics).

The ratio of male to female students changed little. In 2002, the male/female ratio was 57.6 percent male to 42.4 percent female. In 2012, it is 59 percent male to 41 percent female.

Age has also moved slightly younger, with students aged 20-24 growing by about 4 percent of total population and students 40-49 and 50-plus dropping by about a third or fourth each, but all other age groups remaining relatively constant.