1st Day of School at Cal State Brings Lesson in Patience

Times Staff Writer

Erin McSpadden spent 45 minutes looking for a parking place at Cal State Fullerton Monday. Then she spent the rest of the day waiting for one thing after another.

"There are lines in the bookstore, lines at the cashier's office and lines waiting for a syllabus," said the exasperated 21-year-old junior from Chino after having waited for an hour to add a course. "And when you finally get to the front, they tell you that you have to go somewhere else."

Cal State Fullerton opened its 31st year Monday with almost 25,000 students registered for classes, the largest enrollment in the history of the campus.

Although several construction projects have recently been started, both in Fullerton and at a new campus in Mission Viejo, to help accommodate the burgeoning enrollment, students and faculty members agreed Monday that the school is finally bursting at the seams.

"We might be able to add some students by sneaking them in here at 8 in the morning or at night," said James Blackburn, director of admissions and records, "but almost any way you look at it, today we are full."

Officials expect at least 25,500 be enrolled in classes by Sept. 25, when the official census will be taken. If so, that number will be a record, Blackburn said.

Last year's official student count for the fall semester was 24,828, the current record. Actually, the school had already set a record before this school year started, having turned down 1,651 applicants, 50% more than last year.

Cal State Fullerton has, like others in the Cal State system, raised its admission standards, which educators believed would reduce the number of entering freshmen, but so far, that has not happened.

The number of students arriving on campus to either arrange for or actually start classes Monday resulted in a scramble for parking spaces, books and even space to stretch out on the lawn.

Bonnie Ford, 37, a nursing major who brought children Brandy, 6, and Brandon, 4, to the campus with her Monday, agreed that it had been a tough day. Ford will start classes today.

Some Majors Oversubscribed

"I came to find my books," she said, "but there were so many people in the bookstore that I just left." And Ford, like many others, reported that she had spent half her time on the campus Monday just trying to park.

"It's hotter than heck, the kids are tired, and it was tougher than I would have believed to find a parking space. . . . But I like school anyway."

The crunch also means incoming students may find it more difficult to be accepted in certain popular majors, university officials said. Applications to declare a major for the next fall now must be submitted as early as February.

Last year, more than 1,000 students who wanted to major in business and 300 who wanted to major in communications were told that the departments could not accept them.

'Cut Off People'

"We have five professors and over 900 students in advertising," said Prof. Edgar P. Trotter, chairman of the communications department. "We've had to cut off people entering the program earlier because we just can't find the faculty to meet the (student) demand."

In order to satisfy some of the increased demands presented by the burgeoning student population, the university plans to open a $9.5-million five-story addition to its engineering complex this fall. By July 1, 1990, the campus will start building a $22.4-million laboratory addition to McCarthy Hall. That addition will be the most expensive expansion project in the school's history, spokesman Gary Keating said.

Keating added that a pizza parlor has opened on campus and that a major hamburger franchise will open in the spring.

"There are two things students complain about on campus: food and parking," Keating said. "We think we've taken care of the food problem . . . . Now all we have left is parking."

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