By Monique Larkin & Timothy Guy
By Monique Larkin & Timothy Guy
Student enrollment has dropped 3 percent since this last semester according to Riverside City College president Daniel Castro.
This decline may have been the result of some of the changes that were made to the spring schedule this semester and the 165 classes that were canceled.
Interim Dean of Instruction Virginia McKee-Leone said that spring semester schedule grid was changed to accommodate the A.G. Paul Quadrangle’s reconstruction and classes being moved from that location.
“This semester we decided to make all the classes start uniformly,” McKee-Leone said. “Instead of having once a week classes, they were to spread out throughout the week due to not enough space in Lovekin. We have to use each room to its full utilization and that means offering as many classes in one room as possible. This was all done to ensure student success.”
She said that the grid change may have been one explanation of why so many classes were cut this semester, and why student enrollment dropped as drastically as it has.
McKee-Leone said that using each classroom to its full potential allowed more classes to be taught during the day, but created one problem.
“Many students who work during the day, come to school at night,” McKee-Leone said. “So this created a problem for the night student.”
Consequently, some of the department chairs along with McKee-Leone and Castro have tried to offer some key solutions to the problem of low student enrollment and the avoidance of the class cancellation “craze” in the future.
One of their solutions is offering more classes to students through short-term courses.
“One of the ways we are trying to draw students in is through Fast Track,” Castro said.
Fast Track is a group of classes that are taught in an 8-week period throughout traditional 16-week semester.
They offered an arrangement of 25 classes in the subjects of English, speech, sociology, computer information systems, Spanish, music, business, accounting and English as a second language.
However, even the Fast Track classes were not immune to being canceled. Out of the 25 classes offered, seven were canceled due to low enrollment.
Of the remaining 18 classes 14 were under the minimum student enrollment of 20 set by the college. According to McKee-Leone, these classes were allowed to continue for a few reasons including it being the first time the Fast Track program was being offered.
“We were extremely generous in the classes that we let go on,” McKee-Leone said.
Thus, another solution falls on the shoulders of the students. McKee-Leone encourages RCC students to take the initative to find out what is available to them.
“We are trying to help students out,” McKee-Leone said. “We are trying to give those lost students the opportunity to be successful, but they have to be proactive.”
McKee-Leone said that she is encouraging her colleagues to approve of establishing e-mail accounts for students to access important announcements regarding their classes, classes that may have been canceled and other information relating to their success here at RCC.
“We are just trying to give them a mechanism they can be receptive of,” McKee-Leone said.
She said that in the future students will definitely be made aware on paper of the status of their individual classes when they receive their mailed class schedules at home.
They will also be advised to check WebAdvisor to check the status of their classes as well.
“If indeed their classes are canceled, they will definitely know, but we are still trying to find the best way of doing this as possible,” McKee-Leone said.
Another possibility in order to prevent student enrollment from declining is to have instructors more readily available to help their students on the first day of class instead of placing a “class cancellation notice” on the door.
“We want to have the faculty member still meet with their students on the first day of class, even if it is canceled, and point their students in the direction of what is available as far as classes go-so they can advise them and give them their time to assist with the other similar classes that are available,” McKee-Leone said.
Furthermore, these solutions will take time to be put into action, but all in all McKee-Leone feels strongly about them because she cares about RCC students.
“I feel really bad for the students,” McKee-Leone said. “We want to help students the best way we can-while promoting education.”