Additional enrollment limitations to hit California’s community colleges

By Megan Perry

The Board of Governors approved new Title 5 regulations, which will establish another restriction for students’ enrollment priority at California’s community colleges. Students will now face another limitation on enrollment priorities, along with the budget cuts and the three-attempt rule.

The Board of Governors said they adopted the new regulations as a means to improve student success. One component of the Board of Governors’ adopted  regulations is that continuing students would lose priority once they have completed more than 100 units, or have been on academic or progress probation for two or more consecutive terms.

Chancellor Jack Scott said that given the cuts, the 100-unit cap for priority registration would help community colleges to serve students who are focused on completing their academic careers and would discourage students from wasting time and failing classes.

Jeffrey Hernandez, history professor and academic senate vice president, said that East Los Angeles College has usually based priority on the number of units a student has completed cumulatively and the number of enrolled units for the current semester. The 100 units will not include basic math, English or English as a Second Language classes.

In Winter 2011, the Los Angeles Community College District opened priority registration throughout the district, which gave students in any district school priority registration at any school district-wide. So, students who can’t get a class at their school of choice can bump an ELAC student out of a seat because they may have completed more units, receiving a higher priority registration date.

First call on classes is, and has been, active duty military, veterans, former and current foster youth, followed by the Extended Opportunity Programs and Services and Disabled Students Programs and Services. Students who do not meet the new regulations will lose priority to new students who have completed an orientation, assessment test and developed a student educational plan, and continuing students who are in good academic standing.

It is not clear yet whether or not continuing students would get higher priority than new students. The state chancellor’s office indicated they would be providing some implementing regulations to make the prioritization more clearly defined.

The Board of Trustees will be considering a change in the board code 8603. The change will reaffirm the college-based priority enrollment to continuing students, but before new students take effect, so other students in the district will be able to have priority over new students. “It’s hard to know how to evaluate the regulations because you have, amongst those students with a lot of units, some of those who are returning,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said that a number of factors may affect students’ success with the new unit cap on enrollment priority. Students may have transferred to a new school and weren’t successful, so they joined the job market. When they needed more job skills or to pursue higher education, they come back to ELAC with a load of units and wouldn’t have priority to get the classes needed.

The LACCD would have authority to adopt a policy exempting certain categories of students from the 100-unit limit, which could benefit returning students and high-unit majors. LACCD is also required to adopt an appeals process for students who lose enrollment priority due to extenuating circumstances.

Hernandez said that it would be in a student’s benefit to get an educational plan as soon as they can, and update it whenever the student’s major is decided or changed. “Students need to be more careful about not having a bad academic record, and to be careful about how many classes they have to attempt,” Hernandez said.

Once filed with the Secretary of State, community colleges will use a incremental approach to introduce the new regulations. In Spring 2013, students should be informed if the new regulations negatively affect them and how they would be able to appeal such a case. Students will be given a chance to fix their academic record before the new regulations take effect.

The new regulations should be in full implementation by Fall 2014.

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