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More enrolled at local college

COC increases seats available to students

Posted: August 21, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 21, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

Despite a statewide $10 per-unit fee hike and $4.6 million in budget cuts since last year, College of the Canyons is touting an 11.6 percent enrollment increase, school officials said Monday.

“We’ve been cut by 14 percent, or about $10 million, since 2008-09,” said Barry Gribbons, vice president of institutional development and technology for COC. “That’s really made it challenging to meet the needs of the community, but we are doing our best to offer as many course sections students need as possible.”

To try to match its increase in demand, the school has hiked the number of seats available to students by 9 percent throughout the campus. Cutting its winter session is one way the school has been able to pump up its fall offerings.

And students have been trying to take advantage whenever they can before the first day of class next Monday.

“I just got 13 units and took a placement exam today, so hopefully, I can take more,” said an upbeat Kevin Ernst, 18, of La Crescenta. “It’s really tough to get classes — this is the third college I’ve applied to.”

The recent St. Francis High School graduate said he tried schools as far away as San Diego Mesa College, including Pasadena and Glendale, before he was able to get classes at COC.

Part of Ernst’s challenge was, as a first-time community college student, he didn’t have any seniority at any school to help him get the high-demand classes he needed, he said. Most colleges and universities offer higher registration priority to students closer to graduating.

Ernst’s story is a familiar one to COC’s counseling center advisers, who are encouraging more and more first-time students registering late to look at alternatives if they can’t get the classes they need.

“Most of our general education classes are full, so what I’m telling (first-time) students now is to look at their goals,” said Debbie Morlett, who has worked at COC for more than 20 years.

There are a lot of lesser-known classes that can really help improve students’ habits, Morlett said.

A two-page list with courses like Building Math Confidence and Success Strategies for the Adult Reentry Student are among the offerings, she said.

And taking these instructional courses can help in more ways than one. By taking the units, students will often improve their skill sets and their registration priority, she said.

“If they still can’t take any classes, then I tell them to try internships,” Morlett said.

There are dozens of departments and more than 200 classes available, Gribbons said. The school is still evaluating needs and offering additional courses where it can.
“When we cancel a class for low enrollment, and a lot of the time we’ll use that space to add a class,” Gribbons said. “The demand just seems to increase year after year.”

psmith@the-signal.com

661-287-5526

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