Due to the growing demand of community colleges, Saddleback College has increased its student enrollment by 8 percent while keeping the same class sections.
This includes expansion of online classes, distance education, walk on and off site classes.
“At this point, we’re not cutting back, but we’re trying to be more efficient in what we do.” Carol Hilton, Director of Fiscal Services said. “We’ve educated more students with the same number of class offerings.”
However, possible problems arise at an increased enrollment and no increases in class sections.
Upon the reasoning for no increase in class sizes the amount of attention placed on each student.
“The more students there are, the less a professor can effectively communicate with each one individually.” President of the Academic Senate, Bob Cosgrove said.
In graduate schools, there are assistants to help the professors, but community colleges don’t have that. If there is an increase in class sizes, English teachers would have to grade more essays and math teachers more problems without the help of an assistant. The state of California mandates that there are to only be 25 students per English class.
Another concern is whether or not transfer students will have the proper instruction for four year universities. All transfers are to be academically prepared in English, math, languages and G.E. courses.
Future Transfers have to meet a “Certain academic requirement” to make the transition into their university systems. Cosgrove notes that transfers have to be prepared for the transfer, without the right teacher-student ratio, it might weaken their learning capabilities and students will be ill prepared for a transfer.
Bob Cosgrove said in the Academic Senate meeting to fellow staff members, “We don’t want to spread ourselves so thin that the effect we have on most students become less perceptible because we don’t have time to work with individuals.”
In some programs, the amount of equipment would be a problem for having more students. Cosgrove said, “An increase [in student head count] would not be beneficial in nursing programs and auto-tech, because is the inadequate amount of equipment available to extra students”.
Having more students also means higher maintenance of the campus.
Being efficient seems to be a central theme. “Everyone is a lot busier, we’re processing more students though student services, maintaining account with more students with bathrooms, parking lots, and higher head counts means more cleaning.” Hilton said. “Because of the state budget cutbacks we’re serving more students without an increase in grants from the state, so it’s making the staff work a lot harder and faster.”
Due to the California Budget crisis, the Academic Senate is strategizing ways to be more efficient throughout the college. So far changes such as online advising, cutting back on paper, and online services have become common place.
“It’s an evolving process to make the college more efficient.” Cosgrove said, “We are a business as well as an educational institution. We have to make decisions based n the business model of how we only have much money we have and how we can spend it.”
As for funding, Saddleback gets a basic aid fund of 30 million dollars to use for things that weren’t originally intended in their budget. For example, if a ceiling breaks in, the Board can use the fund to fix it. The rest of Saddlebacks money comes from property taxes.
A full time credit student gets funded 4,500 and a non credit full time student gets roughly 2700 by the state of California. This is alot less than what the Universities of California and Cal Sate grant.
Parking is among one of the top complaints with increased enrollment. The Saddleback lots are crowded as it is, more students means more cars and less parking.
Despite the struggles, when asked why the faculty would agree to an increase, Hilton said, “We believe in what we do, we believe in serving students, we realize what a difference in education makes. I think generally speaking we’re very student centered.”