Course repeat policy changing, effective summer 2012

After failing a math class one time, and dropping the same one after the ‘W’ deadline, SMC journalism major Sierra McDonald knew that she only had one more chance at this class.

“When I saw on the transcript that I had already taken the class two times, and that I only had one more chance, I felt that I had to get it done now!” McDonald says.

This is a common issue for many SMC students. However, a new policy is being enforced at colleges throughout the state for the summer of 2012, preventing students from repeating the same class more than three times after either receiving a W or a sub-passing grade.

“Students sometimes drop a class if they’re not getting a good grade, and this is meant to deter that,” says Janet Harclerode, the President of the Academic Senate. “That’s a big problem. It’s a lost seat and a lost opportunity for another student.”

According to Harclerode, due to public higher education budget cuts, the state cannot afford to pay for students to enroll in classes more than three times.

“It’s the state that said ‘we’re not going to pay for students to take this class more than three times,’” Harclerode says. “Tax payers are not paying for it. If an individual would like to pay for it, that individual can do that.”

Not all students try to reenroll in a class, because they are dissatisfied with their grades. Some students like McDonald drop a class because they struggle with a course topic.

“I feel like three is a good amount of chances,” McDonald says. “I didn’t have a chance to go to another college. I had to get it done.”

According to Harclerode, the new policy is not designed to make life easier or harder for students, but rather compel them to succeed and not drop a class for fear of receiving a ‘B’ or ‘C’ grade.

“I definitely think that people that have dropped a class more than twice have been given their fair share of chances,” says Randy Torres, SMC engineering major. “I’ve seen that people will try to drop classes if they feel that they’re not getting the grade that they want.”

Harclerode thinks the transition might not be as difficult for SMC students as for the rest of the state.

“We already have a policy in place,” says Harclerode. “Whereby, to enroll for a third time for a course, a student needs to get an approval from a counselor.”

A bigger concern for the Academic Senate is the shortened deadline to drop a class without receiving a ‘W’. The new deadline is two weeks.

“That’s one of the really serious concerns we have, that students will be more easily getting W’s, and then they will have the more strict policy that they won’t be able to take the class more than three times,” says Harclerode.

Students may submit a petition for special consideration if they desire to enroll in a c­lass a fourth time. Exceptions can be made if the circumstances are extenuating, or if a significant lapse of time has passed since the last class was taken.

“It’s not going to be that easy,” says Harclerode. “I think students are probably going to end up at another college to take the class. If they can’t get it at SMC, they might have to go someplace else for it.”

But not all students have the resources or opportunities to obtain the credits from another college. A third time enrolling in the same class at SMC will be their last chance.