06/24/2010 08:17 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Community Colleges Struggle To Cope With Uptick In Student Demand

Overflowing classes, waiting lists and budget cuts -- welcome to life at community college.

Community colleges are experiencing a renaissance of sorts, accepting new students as more workers go back to school and more four-year colleges hike tuition prices. But the influx of students puts many of them out of luck when it comes to the basics -- taking classes and graduating.

The New York Times reports from California:

On the sunny, hilly campus of Mount SAC (as everyone calls it) east of Los Angeles, Ashley Diaz is one of many dispirited students. In each of her three terms at the college, she has been able to get into only one academic class and one dance class, which she has taken three times.

"I came in with some Advanced Placement credits, so I don't need that many courses before I can transfer to a four-year university," Ms. Diaz said. "I thought I'd be in and out in a year and a half, maybe two. But it's like working my way through quicksand."

The colleges worry that they cannot uphold their promise of "open access" and that they cannot provide students with even basic educations. For now, help may be on the way -- the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act poured $2 billion into a competitive grant program for community colleges; organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have also give funds to the cause. But with thousands of students on waiting lists and hundreds of classes cut, it may be difficult for colleges to catch up.

What do you think? Are you having difficulties with a community college? Weigh in below.