California CCs: Set a plan, get moving

“The historically wide-open doors of California’s community college system will be merely ajar beginning in 2014, when enrollment priority will go to students with clear academic or vocational goals,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle. “Professional students” who’ve attended for years without completing a credential will go to the end of the line and may be shut out of classes.

Faced with shrinking funding and long wait lists, the Board of Governors voted unanimously to set enrollment priorities.

The enrollment priority shift comes as Gov. Jerry Brown considers whether to sign into law SB1456, a bill that would prevent low-income community college students from receiving fee waivers unless they develop clear academic or vocational goals and stick with them.

“In the past, community colleges have been able to serve everyone, and students could accrue a large number of units or do poorly in all of their courses and still receive priority registration,” said Chancellor Jack Scott. “Now that colleges have had to cut back on the courses they can offer, those students were taking up seats in classrooms and crowding out newer students focused on job training, degree attainment or transfer.”

Starting in 2014, new students will go to the head of the enrollment line only if they complete orientation and academic assessment and set up an academic or vocational education plan in their first year. Returning students more than 100 credits — only 60 are needed to transfer as a junior — will not qualify for priority enrollment.

Opponents of the new policy say there aren’t enough counselors to help students develop study plans. Also, they fear re-entry students with “some college” would be shut out.