In spring 2013 more than 3,100 freshman students enrolled at Pierce College while only 2,545 basic general education seats were available, leaving a potential 550 students only one option: crash the classes they need.
If students at Pierce find it unfair when those who crash later drop, then they have a steep road to climb to convince the rest of national student body of the worthiness of their argument because most students drop classes at some point.
Colleges nationwide openly encourage crashing classes – many offer tips on the practice. Some schools have the practice written into their policy manuals like Palomar Community College in San Marcos, Calif. whose counseling manual clearly defines the practice of crashing classes:
“You must attend the first class … If there are no-shows (enrolled students who don’t claim their seats) or withdrawals (enrolled students who decide the class is not what they want), you may be allowed to enroll.”
You will not find mention of academic penalties for crashing classes, though some students complain about crashers at meetings and some faculty, like Pierce Automotive Service Technology, make loose associations between crashing classes, class sizes and student outcomes.
Students are the unwitting and omnipresent victim of faulty planning and mismanagement of resources by college administrations. To contemplate blame of students who crash and drop would be like blaming a patient when a doctor prescribes the wrong medication.
Forecasting the needs of students with more certainty must be addressed. There should not be a time when a group of students like Associated Student Organization president Gustavo Sandoval take the school by surprise with a protest for basic English courses as they did last semester outside the Roundup newsroom.
School administrators must utilize their resources frugally to ensure they offer nimble solutions that fit freshman student’s educational needs. If they do this well, then the only drop that will matter will be the drop in animosity in the first week of each semester.