Fewer students, fewer problems
As classes are cut and budgets plunge, enrollment numbers drop along with them. However, at an already crowded community college like Santa Monica College, fewer students has been favorable.
The California Community College system is at a 20-year drop in enrollment numbers, according to a document released by the Public Policy Institue of California last month.
The drop in enrollment can be attributed to the budget cuts California has had to face in education, which totalled to $1.5 billion from 2007-2008 to 2011-2012, according to the PPIC.
The effect of the drop in enrollment could be felt before the spring semester even started. Although this is my first year at SMC, the difference between the fall and spring semesters' waiting pools was felt.
Walking around Santa Monica College, even though there are still a flood of people at almost any hour in the morning or afternoon, the drop in enrollment is noticeable, to say the least.
The number of students that are enrolling for classes in the California Community College system are 500,000 lower now than they were in previous years.
"There are a lot less people now on campus," said SMC student Kimberly Burciaga. "I can actually get classes now instead of being put on the wait list."
The cuts in the budget were mostly in areas such as music and business. With such a low number of classes offered, people are turning away from education which is resulting in low enrollment numbers.
Proposition 30, which passed in November is helping alleviate the cuts of classes with the additional funding they received of $210 million, but even that amount is not enough to accomodate everyone.
According to the PPIC, the biggest drop in enrollment was with students who would take a semester off and return, only to have fewer classes available to them than when they had left.
The decline in returning students' availability for classes is attributed to colleges favoring current students and providing for them the groundwork to get them on their way to transferring or earning their associate's degree.
Although these results may seem devastating, for current students there are now vacant couches in the library to sit on, bathrooms with a much smaller crowd, and places to sit in the cafeteria. Almost every part of campus seems less crowded during this semester as opposed to previous. Even parking is a lot more bearable this semester.
Rarely are there positives when envisioning a suffering economy, however for those who have continued to attend SMC, the drop in enrollment is a breath of fresh air and students should take advantage of it, for now.