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College students struggle to get into crowded classes

January 12, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
College students across California are learning a tough math lesson thanks to the state's budget crisis.Many are turning to community colleges for classes, but too many students together with not enough classes or financial aid adds up to trouble.

It makes sense that there's a long line for financial aid at San Bernardino Valley College given the state of the economy.

But you'll also need to take a number and get in line just to sign up for class.

And because so many people are going back to school, many students can't get the classes they need.

"Very frustrating. You know, you come to school thinking you're going to attend class," said James Thomas of San Bernardino.

Instead, like many others, Thomas finds himself on a waiting list.

"It'll be about 15 to 20 people trying to get into a class, and you might be left out," explained Thomas.

Some teachers have started a lottery system because many classes only have one or two openings and a waiting list perhaps 20 people long.

"Especially English, because we need English for a pre-req, so it's bad," described Chaviante Bledsoe of San Bernardino.

Consider this to be a sign of the times. There are flyers serving as advertisements, not for a washer or dryer or anything like that, but for an open English class this Thursday.

"We're in a little bit of a perfect storm actually when it comes to the economic downturn, and the cutbacks at Cal States and UCs. Students are flooding our front door with the opportunity to affect their educational future," said Craig Petinak of San Bernardino Valley College.

Petinak says there aren't many options for students who were left out.

"They can try and look for some of our late-start classes. Some of our classes start in later January or February, but the real secret is to try to and plan ahead, get ready for summer school classes," advised Petinak.

Of course, that would mean even more waiting. In this economy, that's not an exciting option.