More and more of today's community college students find themselves on waiting lists thanks to budget cuts. Learn about strategies you can take to get yourself off of waiting lists and into class.
Historically, when the economy sputters, community college enrollment rates rise. In facing today’s growing student population, some campuses are struggling under the increased demand. As a result, some community college students have been forced to halt their academic pursuits, finding themselves placed on waiting lists.
Being on a community college’s waiting list can slow down a student’s anticipated graduation date, as well as limit career training. If you find yourself on a waiting list, there are measures you can take to overcome frustrating admission freezes.
What is a College Wait List?
Waitlists, which put students in a “line” of acceptance after a school or program’s maximum capacity has been reached, can delay a student’s pursuit of a certification or degree for multiple semesters.
Some programs may have longer waiting lists than others. For example, as Hudson Valley, Community College in Troy, New York reveals, “The size of the program and departmental projections will determine the number of students on a waitlist. If a student is not accepted from the waitlist, he/she will be notified shortly after the start of the semester.”
Protesting Against Waiting Lists
According to the Union-Tribune, some California community college students have fought against wait list frustrations through organized protests. For example, protesters gathered at California City College, located in San Diego, to fight against the state’s budget cuts that have forced 20,000 students on to waitlists for San Diego Community College District courses. After cutting $32 million from the schools’ budgets over the past two years, approximately 1,000 classes have been canceled – translating into longer lines for students waiting for acceptance and enrollment.
The San Diego Community College District is not the only collection of campuses drawing crowds of protesters. The Ventura County Community College District, also located in California, has also been forced to assign students to waitlists in light of recent events. According to the Ventura County Star, student enrollment has soared by 7 percent since the previous academic year. Despite this boost in enrollment, the budget for the colleges within the Ventura District has been cut by approximately $6.6 million. As a result, even though a greater number of students are seeking to attend classes, a larger number of applicants are being deferred to long wait lists. Students protesting against the college wait lists commonly organize groups to gather petition signatures, as well as rally attendees to spread their viewpoints through text messages, phone calls, and emails. Additionally, many protesters encourage students to send letters to their state's legislator and governor.
What Else Can Students Do?
Although being forced on a waiting list is frustrating, students can take steps to fight for admission. While each college has its own guidelines, most colleges allow department staff members and/or advisors to submit special consideration entry requests for select students. For example, if you have already taken a course with an instructor, you can ask her to petition to allow you into another one of her classes. You can also speak directly to the course’s instructor, describing your desire to take his course, and he may consider filing a petition on your behalf.
If you are planning to pursue a competitive community college program, you have other avenues that bypass waiting lists. Instead of being stuck on a general campus waiting list, you may be able to take entry placement exams, submit samples of your work, or meet other requirements that can help with your enrollment. These guidelines allow each department to choose the best students while deferring the remaining students to the school’s waiting list.
Waiting lists are frustrating but are unfortunately a part of today’s budget-strapped community colleges. However, by being proactive, you can take measures to skip the waiting list and go straight to class.
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