SMC — Teachers on the first day of summer school classes today may find far more students in their rooms than they bargained for, and more that never signed up.
Many high school students enrolled at SMC to take classes over the summer to get credits out of the way, fulfill graduation requirements or simply to boost grade point averages.
While this is not unusual, many high school students were not able to sign up for their classes this year. This is unusual.
As a result, many students have plans to attend the first day of class in hopes of getting a spot anyway, essentially crashing a course.
“It’s probably a combination of things,” SMC spokesman Bruce Smith said. “Over this past year, we have been experiencing, as all colleges have, higher enrollment. As the economy tanks, enrollment skyrockets.”
Smith also cited classes being cut and students coming from other community colleges around Los Angeles as reasons for large class sizes.
Jessica Ro is an incoming Santa Monica High School senior who was hoping to sign up for a communications class
“The class was already full by the time high school enrollment started,” Ro said.
She is planning to rush the class, or “show up and hope I get in,” as she puts it. Spots in classes open up as some students usually drop out after discovering scheduling conflicts or too demanding a courseload. Unregistered students show up to the first few days of class hoping to fill the empty spots before anyone else.
Ro is not alone, as many high school students are planning on doing the same after discovering their classes were full moments after registration opened.
“I was told to sign up at 6 p.m. on the high school concurrent date, and I understand that SMC students were given a two-week priority,” said incoming senior Salonee Bhaman, who tried signing up for Physics 14. “I called at 6 p.m. and had to keep calling until 6:05 p.m. to get through, at which point my course was closed. It was a little surreal.”
Despite rumors about college students getting preferential treatment this year, Smith insists nothing has changed since last year.
“[High school students] are not any lower [a priority] than usual this year,” Smith said. “It’s just that it’s probably harder to get into a class because of increased enrollment overall.”
While a few extra days to a week are given to continuing college students, this is not a new system.
“California Education Code 76001(e) specifically directs community college districts to assign a low enrollment priority to special part-time or full time students … in order to ensure that these students do not displace regularly admitted students,” vice president of enrollment development Teresita Rodriguez said. “Students still enrolled in high school are part of this category.”
Smith explained that often in times of economic stress, community college enrollment increases due to people looking for job retraining or better education for higher quality jobs.
To make things worse, several Los Angeles community colleges such as nearby West L.A. College have decided not to hold sessions this summer due to California’s budget problems. As a result, students normally enrolled at L.A. colleges are signing up for summer classes at SMC to complete required courses.
“With the budget cuts facing all segments of education in California, I am afraid that the demand for college courses currently outweighs the availability,” Rodriguez said.
Some students are looking to other colleges and programs for classes and some have just given up, but many are planning to take their desired classes by storm.
“I am planning to rush the class, albeit with mixed emotions,” Bhaman said. “I was hoping signing up would be swallowing a bitter pill because it was good for me, not wheedling with the pharmacist for it as well.”