Registration time is coming up again next month, and even though the spring 2016 schedule has not yet been released, some students have already begun to worry if their necessary classes for graduation will make it on the schedule.
Luckily, I will be graduating spring semester so this upcoming registration period will officially be my last, however my path to graduation has been anything but conventional.
I graduated high school almost ten years ago and went directly into community college, but I then decided to enroll in trade school and make a career from the certification I received there as a gemologist in the jewelry industry. This industry began to rapidly decline as a result of the recession, and over the years I began to see many jewelry stores go out of business, and people lose their jobs at a surprisingly rapid rate.
After seeing how unstable my positions were I made the decision to go back to school full-time. Throughout my ventures into this new career path, I was in and out of college, taking classes here and there, so I have seen firsthand how much higher education has changed over the years.
At the community college, in which I transferred from, a student could show up to a class that had a full roster and almost be guaranteed a seat. The chances were very good that several students would elect to not show up and later drop the class. By the time I transferred in the spring of last year, there would be on average an additional 50 percent of students trying to add into full classes.
For example, a class of 35 would have an additional 15 or 16 students trying to add, all standing in the back of the room praying that one day soon they may be one of the lucky ones to eventually get a seat in the class before the registration period ended.
The teachers were overwhelmed and shocked as well, most would turn it into some sort of lottery to decide who would be selected to add to the class. We would draw straws, flip coins, play rock-paper-scissors, pick numbers- it was absolutely ridiculous. This isn’t the Hunger Games, it’s college registration!
We shouldn’t have to hope and pray to get the necessary classes because often times, there is only one section and it’s only offered once a year. If you are one of the unfortunate ones to have a later registration appointment because you’re a freshman or don’t have as many units- good luck!
This shouldn’t be a fierce competition to get the classes needed for graduation, but sadly for today’s college student this is the new normal.
Sonoma State University is no different, ask any student on campus how they feel about class availability and you will likely hear a lot of frustration.
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a panel of university administrators, including our President of 24 years, Ruben Armiñana. Students raised concerns about graduating in a timely fashion, citing our high acceptance rate and a lack of tenured faculty. It’s a common misconception among the administration that students simply don’t want to take an inconvenient 8 a.m. or Friday class.
Armiñana agrees that we need to “Get more money and resources from the state of California,” however he also recognized that “we have a commitment to the state of California to educate a number of students.”
With budget cuts to education continuing to take place, how will Sonoma State balance both the commitment to allow existing students to graduate in a timely fashion, as well as accommodate the approximate 1,900 incoming freshman each year?
For college students, graduating in exactly four years seems to be some sort of fantasy, and the solution to this problem is not clear-cut. Obviously funding is an issue, but there isn’t much students can do about that. So as someone that has fought my way to the finish line, I give you this parting advice: “Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!”