Students test their luck when instructors randomly choose who gets to enroll. (Anibal Santos)
Saddleback Colleges’ battle of the wait list cuts into valuable time for students trying to transfer to a four-year university.
According to members of the Academic Senate, students who apply for registration in a closed course through MySite are then placed on a list with others who have attempted the same thing. How this list of potential enrolled students is acted upon by professors varies widely throughout campus.
According to Admissions and Records, certain students are put on a priority list and get to register earlier than others. This “A-list” includes veterans, athletes, honor students and faculty, which creates a wait list for the rest of the student body. This forces students that don’t fall into any of these categories to petition for the classes they need. This pursuit, more often than not, seems to end fruitlessly. Something needs to change.
Students become discouraged when they are not able to get into classes they need, which results in more students opting out of school in favor of joining the workforce.
“It takes a lot of time to finish [college] and I wanted to start a family,” said Joseph Morris, a former Saddleback student who now works at Trader Joe’s.
Medical students are majorly (no pun intended) affected by the wait list’s dominion over class rosters. In order to enter the nursing and medical assistant programs, one must take prerequisites, which are highly popular and therefore difficult to get in to.
The protocol for handing out “Add Permit Codes” to students varies by professor. Who adds a class could be decided by anything from pulling names out of a hat to choosing whoever emailed the instructor first. Some even decide based on who wrote the best email.
“There is definitely no uniformity. Sometimes a student has been on the waiting list for three to four semesters,” Jared Blacket, 25, microbiology said. Blacket has been trying to get into microbiology classes and believes that science classes have the longest waiting lists.
The lack of regulations regarding APC codes, petitioning, and the wait list is not fair, but Saddleback College mathematics professor Karla Westphal and others are trying to come up with a solution.
“The idea is to try to have an “active” wait list, particularly for classes that are in very high demand,” Westphal said. ” If a student dropped a class that was closed, instead of the class opening up again, an email with an APC code would be sent to the first student on the wait list. He or she would have 24 hours to use the code; after 24 hours, the seat would be made available to the next student on the list.”
However, any concrete decision on what to do about the wait list is still largely up in the air.
“Right now, we’re just gathering input from faculty, students and staff to see what the needs are and figure out how best to address them” Westphal says, “The goal is to get a system that will be more fair than the current system. That’s why we’re trying to get as much faculty and student input as possible.”
There needs to be a shift in the way we approach enrollment when it comes to classes that are in high demand and fill up quickly. These classes also tend to serve as important transfer requirements and affect every student with a plan to attend a four-year university. We do not know what the solution is, only that we need one. Communicate with board members, faculty members and fellow students and share your experience with petitioning and the uphill battle that enrollment can be. If we incite a comprehensive conversation between policymakers and the student body, we can produce the fairest solution.