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The College Conversation: Analyze costs, benefits of junior-college path

August 21, 2010|By Lisa McLaughlin

There are 25,000 Orange Coast College students poised to start courses on August 30th, and I feel for them. What a summer it's been for transfer students registering for classes at the local community colleges. And, what a week it's been for our clients who feel desperate about the frustrating consequences of the state's horrendous budget situation.

New this year, Orange Coast College is implementing a waitlist system with the goal of easing the time-consuming process of online class registration for fall semester courses. Just as in the past, students are assigned a registration appointment time based on…wait, let me call OCC to double check on this.

I'm now on hold going on 10 minutes after hearing the initial greeting "You've reached the Orange Coast College answer center. Due to extreme state budget cuts, you may experience a longer than expected wait time." Once the gentleman comes on the line, I will ask how the registration times (or what others colleges call "ticket numbers") are selected. If the student is eligible for Extended Opportunity Programs and Services, they get the golden ticket.

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Disabled individuals are next in line, followed by students with the most units completed and highest grade-point average. Final seniority is determined by the time a student applies and completes the matriculation process. Obviously, the later the registration time, the more depressing it is when a student attempts to register.

I can only assume that Orange Coast College's desire to maintain this seniority along with the subsequent attempt to track the number of students who want a specific course also compelled the creation of the waitlist system. Ideally, this system could save student's time by automatically taking students off the waitlist as seats open up.

Instead, a student is required to check their OCC Gmail account every day. When a seat opens up, the student is alerted and they have 24 hours to register for the open seat. If not, students are dropped from the waitlist.

As in years past, all local community colleges are continuing their practice of allowing students to petition for courses throughout the weeks following the initial start of class. Students must show up on day one of the class they are trying to get into. From that point, the process is arbitrary, as it's been for the past 10 years I've been working with transfers.

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