New Santa Monica College policy cracks down on slackers

Starting a new semester at Santa Monica College brings one aggravating image to our minds. Students running around, desperately trying to add a class before someone else gets their spot. It turns into a game of "survival of the fittest." Who can run faster? Who is better at charming a professor for an add code? Who will get to the add list the fastest to write their name down? Who is lucky enough to have their name pulled out of a bowl or hat?

SMC is a wonderful school with beautiful landscapes and buildings, so it is no wonder why a lot of students prefer to come here over other community colleges. Yet trying and hoping to add a class before the new semester starts is a guaranteed total disaster.

There are students who add classes online then keep them all the way until their payments are due or until the last day before the semester starts, then they drop some of their classes. Then you have those who check for available classes every day, praying someone will drop a class so they can click the add button with sweat pouring down their faces. It becomes an online game. Students following every move on the SMC website, checking for any class available so they can have more units during the semester. One drops a class; another adds it hastily, while the third watches it happen in seconds before their eyes.

According to the SMC Office of Institutional Research, SMC had 35,232 students attending in fall of 2010, 68 percent of which are transfer students. Last year, 1,053 students transferred to University of California schools. For those who don't transfer or graduate, they come back the next semester. And do what? Some keep studying to do well, while some slack off and add classes they don't need, wasting away space. The "space wasters" need to be disciplined. They cut off the flow of adding classes and make it hard for others to get the class they need. These "space wasters" barely show up to class, often get a "W" or "F" and leave an empty seat that could've been filled by someone who would have done well in that class.

There are dedicated students who will do whatever it takes to get the best grades possible, then transfer to their desired school. As it's known, SMC is the right place to transition from a community college to a four-year college. Their transfer rates are always high in comparison to other California community colleges. But the problem that students face is getting the classes they need completed so they can transfer on time.

With budget cuts affecting SMC and the unit rate going up to $36, Fall of 2011 will be a blessing for those who are financially set and desperate to get classes right away, but a menace to those who will be turned away. Perhaps, this pay increase will be positive for students who are serious with their education and plan on doing well in the classes they are lucky to get into. There is nothing more frustrating than seeing a class you needed half empty, mid semester, when it was unavailable to add in the beginning.

We all got the same email from SMC stating that the school is following the "Standards of Student Success" policy. Students must "maintain timely progression and successful academic performance in their classes." Students who are on academic probation and become "disqualified for academic and/or progress reasons as a result of their Spring 2011 grades will be automatically dropped from all previously enrolled Fall 2011 classes."

The average GPA of SMC students in Fall 2010 was 2.59, according to the SMC Office of Institutional Research, and 22 percent have less than a 2.0 GPA. That's a higher percentage than the other cumulative GPA ranges and that proves that the slackers not only exist, but are plentiful.

Let's face it, if the school's highest GPA range in Fall 2010 was less than 2.0, then Spring 2011 cannot be so far off, statistically. If this policy is enforced, Fall 2011 could be the end of the road for a lot of SMC students.

This new policy might be the shining light in a dark tunnel of unavailable classes, hogged by students who aren't even serious enough about school to complete them. If the slackers get slashed from the school, unbound from the "add" button, then the academic achievers might get a break from having to run around in the first week of school, playing a game of "Who Will Get the Class First."  Game over for the "space wasters."