Like clowns stuffed into a Mini, Santa Monica College's increase in students has been an astonishing phenomenon to watch; however, this is no circus trick. SMC enrollment has shot through the roof like a cannonball.
In a February 19 article, the Santa Monica Daily Press reported that enrollment in California community colleges has increased by 100,000 students, a 9.8 percent increase, in the fall of 2008. Also, the University of California and Cal States are pushing people to community colleges because of budget cuts.
The reason can be traced to the base of all of our current problems in the United States of America: the economy. When the employment rate goes down and people lose their jobs, enrollment in community colleges goes up. A bad economy equals more students.
It's not just the younger folks who are going to community college, but also our elder residents. The average age is no longer 18-25, but is now 25-30. Even adults in their 40's are attempting a come back by completing their education, which begs the question: Is SMC overcrowded?
The answer is yes, absolutely. The number one community college in the state of California feels like an overstuffed turkey. SMC has students from every part of the globe, and from all over the United States. You don't even need to look at the numbers to see it. Just take a walk around at 9 in the morning to the parking lot and see the debacle that is our parking situation.
The line is ridiculous. In fact, once you enter the structure, you start praying that someone is getting out of class and is going to magically appear in the lot to give you the spot that you need. That usually never happens, and you end up staring at your clock wondering how late you will actually be to class today.
It's a three-ring circus. If you drive to the top of the structure (because that's where the last spots usually are) it'll take you at least 15 minutes to get out of the there with your sanity intact. There are cars everywhere, and everyone is trying to get an edge in the battle to find a spot.
That's just the tip of the iceberg. Everyone is crashing classes. It's an epidemic; it seems like every person that you know needs to crash a certain general education class. Those classes fill up so fast, that students get desperate in the end and start begging teachers to give them an add code for Com 1 or Speech 1. Hey student! Take a night class. There are usually more room in those anyway, but even those classes are getting full, so it seems that we're all in this together.
Either way, there is little sympathy for those who can't park, can't find a class and stand in line at the book store complaining that it's taking to long to get their books. We all knew this was coming. Every student at SMC has gotten the email, about high enrollment, and the phone call, you know the one that says, "due to the increase in student activity we recommend you park at our satellite campus and take the shuttle."
It seems that most students would rather just sit and take the 40-dollar fine than be productive and move their car to a better location because, well, he just didn't feel like moving. There are the people who get stuck in the structure for an hour blaming it on everybody else, never looking in the mirror.
There is a reason 9 a.m. starts to be the worst time to find parking. It's because everyone has class at the same time and arrives at the same time. There is also a reason why classes get full. It's because those students are registering for class the weekend before school starts. We are a lazy society.
The students who don't complain about the high enrollment are the ones who leave home 20 to 30 minutes before they really have to. They get up earlier and they leave earlier in order to be sure that they can park in the structure and have a stress-free time getting to class.
Those students are also the ones who register for class as soon as they can. They get the best times, the best teachers and most importantly, a head start if they want to change their mind on which class to take.
So if you're really unhappy that SMC is way overcrowded, (because we all agree, it is a zoo out there) don't be lazy, don't hit the snooze button, and don't wake up 20 minutes before your class, knowing very well that you have to hop on the freeway to get to school.
You can always drive around the structure for half an hour, or drive up and down Pearl (if you can find the streets with no permit signs) or park at one of the satellite lots if that's what you want. Or you can be smart about it. Leave early, and take Pearl instead of being stuck behind the slow traffic on Pico. This is a hard time for all, and in
times like these only the strong survive.
Society does not reward laziness, but rewards the ones who get can get an edge. Take a stand. Don't be a fool, stay in school and maybe carpool.