Waiting becomes the norm

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By Caitlin Elison / Staff Writer

By Caitlin Elison / Staff Writer

Enrollment in community colleges may be up, but that does not necessarily mean students are getting into classes.

California community colleges have faced $520 million in budget cuts during the 2009-2010 year which has caused many colleges to reduce classes by 20 percent and Riverside City College is no different.

Many classes have been cut, and students are struggling to get enough units in order to graduate and possibly transfer to a four-year university.

According to instructor Rosemarie Sarkis, several language courses, including Latin, Greek, and Korean, have been cut for the time being.

Furthermore, if not enough students’ sign up for French 2 in spring, that section will also be cut indefinitely.

These budget cuts come at a time when more students than ever are seeking admission to community colleges.

Students who enroll intend to complete a two-year education then transfer to a four-year university.

The largest high school senior class in California’s history graduated in 2010, leaving many four-year universities full.

In addition, many students cannot afford four-year university tuition due to rising college costs.

Student Richard Sanchez was waitlisted for all of his classes this semester.

Though it may seem shocking, Sanchez is not alone.

“The waitlists have a lot of people, so it sometimes makes it difficult to get into the wait lists, let alone the actual class,” Sanchez said.

General education classes typically have the longest waitlists, because every student is competing for a spot.

Student Jacob Walker says he knows this situation all too well. He was waitlisted for his math class, and almost did not get in.

“It is generally difficult to get into general education courses because so many people are trying to get in, but there are only a set number of classes available,” Walker said.

Even after students get past the waitlists and successfully enroll in a class, they could be looking at an enlarged time frame for transferring or getting a degree.

Many students are forced to take classes they need at a later time, which in turn sets back their educational goals.

“It would be much easier to get into the classes and waitlists I need if they would stop cutting courses,” Sanchez said. “If they continue to, it will take me longer to transfer.”

Another common side effect to class cuts is problems with financial aid.

Many students have either lost or been at risk of losing their full-time financial aid status because they could not enroll in enough units.

“My second semester at RCC I did not make it into a class,” said student Nikki Collard. “I was enrolled in 10 units and needed 12, which made me lose my full time financial aid.”

Walker receives financial aid each semester, and has been in the same situation as Collard.

“There have been multiple occasions where I was in danger of losing my full-time status because of waitlisted classes,” Walker said.

Sanchez made the suggestion that RCC should focus on opening more general education sections, because those are the classes required for students to transfer.

However, other students do not see this as the answer.

“I think it is best if they keep a good mix (of classes),” Walker said. “Courses that some people do not find important may be important in the eyes of others.”

According to Collard, the solution is not which classes are offered, but rather careful planning.

“I helped my boyfriend get almost full-time units his first semester,” Collard said. “You just have to plan it out right and know what to take and when.”

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