Registration changes could swell waiting lists at Glendale Community College

New statewide rules for registering for classes at community colleges are expected to complicate life for students who are already experiencing huge wait lists, officials say.

Unanimously approved by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors this week, starting in 2014 first-priority registration will go to active members of the military, veterans and current and former foster children.

A second change gives priority to new students who attend orientation, have an outlined academic plan and less than 100 units.

At Glendale Community College this week, 5,119 students were on wait lists for classes, making it difficult for many to complete their degrees in a timely manner so that they can move on to four-year institutions.

Much of the jostling has come as college administrators reduce course offerings and class sessions to save money amid reduced state education funding.

The backlog of students vying to get classes was similar last year, said Mary Mirch, vice president of student services.

“They were desperate last year as well,” she said.

Statewide, the average number of students on wait lists at community colleges was projected at 7,000 students.

Officials at Glendale Community College say the new first-priority requirements are not vastly different than their own. But under the new system, disabled students will no longer have first priority.

Michelle Mora, director of admissions and records, said disabled students can sign up the same day as first-priority students, but not during the first 8 a.m. time slot.

“When the resources are limited, you can’t do it all anymore,” Mirch said. “That was the intention of the board of governors.”

At Glendale Community College, priority has been given to students who have completed orientation and are in good academic standing.

The new changes come about partly as a result of about 133,000 first-time students who were unable to sign up for a single class in 2009 to 2010.

“There are professional students and we don’t want to give them priority,” Mirch said. “We want to give them to students planning on completing and getting a job or transferring.”

On Sept. 24, state Sen. Carol Liu (D-Pasadena) will headline a study session at the college to discuss the new registration process.

The board of trustees this week discussed their support of Proposition 30, which will raise taxes for public schools and community colleges if it passes in November.

If the proposition fails, the college would lose an additional $4.6 million.

Follow Kelly on Twitter @kellymcorrigan.

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