Enrollment Drops by 9.5 Percent

MARIA KORNALIAN
El Vaquero Staff Writer

For many students, enrolling into classes at GCC this fall semester was like running an obstacle course since for the first time in many years the college opened its classroom doors to 9.5 percent fewer students than last semester, shows enrollment figures.

This is a surprisingly unusual occurrence since the college normally receives between a 3-5 percent growth factor in its head count every school year. The lowered enrollment may be the direct effect of classes that were cut out of the schedule.

The state’s budget crisis has led to the overwhelming amount of classes that have been dropped from the curriculum at GCC, including 120 classes cut from the fall, 130 cut from the spring and many others from the summer and winter sessions. This decrease of classes puts prospective students out of a seat in classes that are already filled to the max.

“It’s very upsetting because even though I got all the classes I needed this semester, I know there are a lot of students that didn’t,” comments student, Ryan Robinson. While the cut classes may be a large factor in the decrease of enrollment, the sticker price per course unit may have scared some students away. The fall semester started with a dramatic tuition increase. Though significantly less than the originally proposed increase to $24 per unit, the hefty tuition increase to $18 per unit, is one of the key reasons why GCC’s head count this year has decreased 9.5 percent, while enrollment has decreased by 5 percent. Head count is the measure of how many students attend GCC, while enrollment is the measure of how many units or classes that are taken.

Though a large number of students were able to obtain classes and pay the increase, many did not have the opportunity.

“It’s unfortunate so many students are being robbed of their education,” expresses concerned student, Travis Riner, “I can’t imagine how difficult that must be.” In agreement with the devastation was Active Dean, Sharon Combs, as she expressed her anguish of the situation; “our students are the whole reason for us being here.”

A community college receives a certain amount of dollars per full-time student that is enrolled at their school. At the college level this process is known as FTES (Full-Time Equivalency Student). The more units and classes students enroll in, the more funding is given to the school by the state. However, once a college reaches a certain enrollment status, the state does not account for additional students enrolled. This results in an over capping of students and the college must then pay for each additional student itself. The over capping of students is partially responsible for the cutting of classes.

The state could not pay for all of the over capped students, forcing GCC to cut some teachers, which lead to classes being cut as classes need teachers to teach them. “The state took a big hit,” stated Edward Karpp, from the Department of Institutional Research.

These cuts also affect the other part of the equation, the teachers. In addition to teachers scrambling around to teach classes, some teachers are being forced to cancel their classes due to low enrollment numbers.
Student, Ryan Wells, feels immediate affects of so many classes being dropped.

“I have one professor teaching three classes at one time,” explains Wells, “…it’s hard for him to spend time with all of the classes and all of the students.”

Enrollment figures also show that though the average student is 29 years old, GCC receives the largest amount of its enrollment from high school seniors of the Glendale district. The college also receives over 50 percent of its enrollment from outside the district, including a large number of immigrant students.