Community colleges consider prioritizing enrollment

FRESNO, Calif.

Right now two pieces of state and federal legislation are making their way through various committees and could affect how schools' prioritize enrollment.

At Reedley College, it's crunch time as students rush to register for classes in the fall.

"It's very competitive, lots of people attending," said student Freddie Santos as he signed up for classes online.

He said every semester it seems to get a little bit tougher to get in to his courses because he's competing with an increase in students. Other students agreed the competition is stiff.

"People I talk to they're running into the problem where they're trying to enroll and school is absolutely full and they're being waitlisted," said student Gilbert Martinez.

That wait, he said, is delaying them from transferring to a four year university.

Interim President Michael White, said the legislation may change how students choose their courses in the future. That's because, he said, the state is looking to streamline the process.

"Right now there is nothing to incentivize a student to work quickly, to be diligent, to complete that major so one of the components of this legislation is a cap or a limit of 100 units," he said.

The bills would also require students to declare a major early on in their academic careers and stick with it. Students wouldn't be allowed to take a course outside of their academic track or repeat a vocational or recreational class like art, music or golf.

"The driving force behind this legislation is to complete a degree, a certificate or to transfer," said White.

He said, as the proposal stands right now, active duty members of the military, veterans and low-income students would be put at the front of the line for registration.

"Right now legislation mandates veterans and foster youth," he said. "EOS or extended opportunity programs, as well as disabled students would be added to that group."

Students we talked with had mixed feelings about the proposed changes.

"There's some pros and cons to it," said Vicente Amparano. "Veterans, I understand they're fighting for us out there and they come back and trying to fit back into the flow of society, I don't see anything wrong with that, but as far as income levels go, I don't think we should be categorized by our income levels. Everyone should get an equal chance."

Once the legislation goes through the various committees, it may be in part or in whole. White said, some elements maybe taken out. If approved, he said, the changes would take effect in 2014.

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