Community college students struggle to get classes post Prop 30

January 9, 2013 12:42:50 AM PST
It's the first semester back for thousands of Valley community college students since the passage of proposition 30, the governor's sales tax initiative to help fund higher education in California, but some students are still having a tough time getting the classes they need.

Chelsea Marshall is starting her second semester at Fresno City College and considers herself fortunate to get into the courses she needs towards earning her degree.

"I was very lucky because I'm in the Future Nursing Program," Marshall said. "So I have a counselor and there's about 20 of us, and she signs up for our classes."

Marshall is also an athlete which made her eligible for priority registration in early November, but some of her friends had to wait a couple of weeks later to enroll and weren't as successful in getting the courses they need.

Ashlee Bain said, "For me, I don't do any sports or anything so I don't have priority registration, so when I registered it was probably around Novemeber 15th or 20th, I was actually waitlisted."

Bain said she was waitlisted in three of the five courses she signed up for. To increase her chances of getting in, she said she's splitting time between two different campuses and is sitting in on a course at Willow International until she finds out whether she's accepted.

"It's very frustrating because then you have to deal with late registration getting into another course at this time, especially when school starts, is super difficult."

School administrators say it could remain that way until the campus's financial picture improves.

"We weren't able to open up more courses, we were able to preserve," said Vice President of Instruction Dr. Timothy Woods.

Woods said while proposition 30 saved about 30 courses from being cut in spring 2013, registration hasn't changed much since the measure passed.

"Waitlists are pretty much the same they've been for the last decade," said Woods. "One of the things we've been doing to work with students more closely is through embedded counseling, getting students to do more educational planning so that the waitlisting isn't a mechanism of their everyday life."

Woods said a small jump in enrollment is also contributing to an increase in competition for classes. He said enrollment at Fresno City is up 1% from 2012 and while some students are being waitlisted in high-demand courses, others are being given the opportunity to go to college for the first time. He said the increasing access to education is a good thing and continues to be the a major priority at the college.

"Right now, our head count is just over 19,000 students and we anticipate the number to increase to about 20,000 by the end of the term."

Woods said the budgetary conditions at each community college in the Valley is a little different. At Reedley College, administrators added 68 courses to the spring 2013 semester. Administrators also said Willow International is at about 94% capacity and some students there are also traveling to nearby schools on alternating days of the week to get their classes.