LOS ANGELES (CBS) — As families across the state struggle to come up with the funds to send their kids to four-year universities, community colleges continue to surge in popularity — a trend that threatens to fuel the same overcrowding problems facing other state campuses.

A new study shows that nearly half of all community college students in California couldn’t enroll in one or more classes they needed, a development which may slow graduation rates and even worsen overcrowding in the long run.

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Adam Ray with the Pearson foundation tells KNX 1070 a growing appetite for education in California is among the several reasons that students are being shut out.

One solution to fix the logjam may be to expand the number of courses offered online, said Ray.

“You can begin to see this model emerging of a kind of blended learning experience, where students are taking some of their coursework online, and that online course experience will create more access for people to go get those offline courses on campus,” said Ray.

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There may even be advantages to students shifting at least some of their curriculum into the virtual realm.

“In a way, the online course can actually be more personal than being in a 2,000-student auditorium might be,” Ray added.

Ray says the growth of community colleges isn’t necessarily a bad thing — and actually further validates the colleges as a source for a dependable education.

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