The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

College success in 90 units or less

Kay Barnes | Features Editor | [email protected]

Student Success Act shows discontent among some City College students

In September 2012 Gov. Jerry Brown had signed the Student Success Act of 2012, setting a 90-unit cap that changes the way priority registration is assigned.

The 90-unit cap went into effect for the 2014-2015 school year, according to Kim Goff, City College admissions and records supervisor.

“The 90-unit limit is one component of a comprehensive effort to assist students in early planning and goal completion,” Goff said.

As a result, City College students may notice warnings recent emails in their Los Rios Gmail accounts about the Act’s 90-unit cap, which could affect their financial aid and priority registration.

The notices detail how the new registration tiers are organized. One of the changes described is that students with more than 90 completed units will lose

their priority registration dates and be allowed only to register for classes on open enrollment dates.

However, students are able to appeal their priority change, said Goff.

“Students enrolled in high unit majors — engineering, for example — can fill out an appeal to have their priority date reinstated,” explained Goff. “There are also a few other reasons students can have a petition approved, and they are listed on the form, which can be found on our website by searching for ‘reinstatement of priority registration.”

“One of the cap’s functions is to help focus students to finish community college more quickly, Goff said, “by moving students over 90 units to open registration, allow students who are approaching graduation or transfer the opportunity to get the classes they need.”

Even with the assurances of administrators, students are still concerned that this unit cap will limit their chances of success and advancement at City College.

“I don’t like the 90-unit cap,” said Angela Connor, an instructional assistant at the writing center and an art major who transferred from City College to CSU Sacramento.

“It took me more than 90 units because I changed my major four times, and I took more classes than I needed to fill my financial aid requirements,” Conner said.

While the administration does understand that there are students who may take longer to finish than others, administrators are concerned that some students are not taking steps to help them succeed.

“The biggest reason for the unit cap is that if someone has 90 units here, they’ve already gone 30 units past what is needed for an associate’s degree. They’re almost ready to get a bachelor’s degree, and it probably denotes someone who hasn’t taken advantage of our student services,” said Rick Brewer, City College, public information officer.

Brewer explained that if a student has 90 units, it is taking him or her longer than usual to complete a degree or certificate or to transfer.

“As much as we love our students, community college is not the place you want to hang for 10 years,” said Brewer.

According to Brewer, the 90-unit cap will ultimately help students with time management, put a stop to taking unnecessary classes and potentially help limit large student loans.
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“Our intention is not to punish students or kick them out, just move them along,” said Brewer. “It’s another way to force students to focus and make the hard decisions about their educational goals and abilities.”

English major Brion Drake disagreed, “I think they’re trying to redefine what community college is. Now it’s, ‘Let’s see how fast we can push students to a four-year university.”

However, Brewer emphasized that the college mission is about student success. To Drake, community college isn’t just about graduating or transferring.

“Community college is a place for second chances because [it] offer[s] lower level classes and space to allow students to explore their interests,” said Drake. “What is community college, then, if there are no second chances?”

Some students also said they are worried that the unit cap seems aimed at students who want to double major, are returning to college to develop new job skills or who want to explore their interests before deciding on a major or a career.

Ben Metlenko, a biology major, said, “It’s hard for someone who’s in a science major. There are so many prerequisites for science classes and math that have to be done.”

Connor said, “I understand the 90-unit cap because they want people to move on, get your stuff done and figure out what you want to do. But for some people it’s not easy to do that.”

Graphic design major Ana Adams agreed.

“It’s easiest if you already know what you’re going for. I already knew what I wanted to do, but even so, I still changed my mind a few times about which classes I wanted to take,” Adams said. “With the 90-unit cap, there isn’t as much room to play around.”

According to Brewer, students like Adams are on the right educational track.

“By having a solid educational plan, changes could be made earlier and easier so that there won’t be major effects down the line,” Brewer said.

But some students have no idea what their focus will be in college.

“It makes it difficult especially at a community college where you can use this place to figure out what you want to study,

and you want to try all different kinds of classes,” said Metlenko.

Connor said, “I kind of think as long as you are passing your classes and doing all you can to move forward, why do they care as long as you are a successful student? If you’re flunking your classes and not seeing a tutor or not taking steps to help yourself, I can see the administration asking, ‘Well, why are you here if you’re not taking this seriously?’”

However, Brewer emphasized that the college’s primary mission is about student success.

Brewer added, “We don’t want to see students fail. That’s why we have so many interventions in place to help students succeed. If students are taking advantage of these interventions, they shouldn’t worry about the cap affecting them.”

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