GCC students struggle to find classes

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Students continue to compete for seats at Glendale Community College's summer session, continuing a year-long trend of soaring enrollment.

Amid fewer classes on the schedule, students are filling classes beyond capacity, President/Supt. Dawn Lindsay said.

"The way I interpret this data, our classes are beyond capacity," she said. "Our faculty has taken in students above and beyond the cap they have, because the faculty is being sensitive to the classes students have to take."

There are 40% fewer classes than last summer, but the college is accommodating 70% of last year's total students, Lindsay said.

"We're serving fewer students, but we're also providing more units," Lindsay said. "We've got classes, particularly in math, science, social sciences, English areas where we could've had upwards of 40 students on a waiting list because we didn't have the ability to fund the classes."

Community colleges saw enrollment jump 4.9% last year from 2008 figures, according to the California Department of Education. Fewer admissions into four-year colleges, and a still-high unemployment rate propelled the growth, officials said.

In Glendale, that meant stressed-out students trying to get the classes they need, or risk losing the degree or certification requirements.

Outgoing student trustee Lilya Avagyan said she knew one colleague who was on track to transfer to UCLA after graduating with an associate's degree. But she instead had to transfer to Westwood without her associate's degree.

"We had [English as a second language] students or international students who had problems," she said. "They were offering a lot of ESL classes and they couldn't add it, like English 1."

In other cases, students who failed a class during the year couldn't get into that class in the summer, Avagyan said.

"They were hoping to get it during summer session, so they could continue into fall semester with a new class. But again, that was a problem," she said.

California community colleges are still grappling with structural deficits, officials said. Many, like Los Angeles City College, have canceled summer session altogether. Glendale Community College modified its program, and Pasadena City College, College of the Canyons and Los Angeles Trade Technical College remain open this summer on different schedules.

"Even though we didn't service everybody who wanted it, we decided it was better to … maintain the summer opportunity for students who really needed it," Lindsay said. "I think it speaks to the school, as far as a commitment to the community, but it also speaks to the faculty that they are willing to take so many students."

FOR THE RECORD: This article corrects an earlier version that incorrectly identified Los Angeles City College.

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