Proposed psychology major
Steven Neale, second-year and proposed psychology major, crashed two classes this quarter. He did not get into either. For Neale, this is not the first quarter he’s had to crash courses. But it is the first time that he was not able to enroll.
The two courses he crashed were FILM 20P — a class on production technique, with 77 students currently enrolled, and SOCY 15 — a class on world society, with 231 students enrolled. Neale made sure he did not miss his registration appointment, yet he became frustrated prior to his enrolling time.
“The classes that I was crashing closed up before my registration,” Neale said. “Intro to Film Production closed 15 minutes before [my registration time].”
Because he was not able to get into those two classes, Neale kept in mind two back-up courses, which he is taking now.
Neale’s expected graduation date is June 2013. Neale said his experience crashing courses was not fun but not horrible. He still has a couple of years left and some room for the unexpected change of plans.
“As of now everything is going according to plan,” Neale said.
Fourth-year, College Ten
Anthropology and legal studies
Fourth-year anthropology and legal studies major Zahara Alam has had to experience “course crashing” for the past three years. This year was no exception. Alam crashed a political anthropology course with a 25-person wait list for a 30-person class. She was lucky enough to be the only one to get in.
“When I was crashing, I thought I wasn’t going to get in,” Alam said. “I thought I was not going to graduate [on time].”
Alam, whose expected graduation date is June 2011, said one of her worst experiences in crashing classes was last quarter. She tried to get into an upper-division psychology and law course with a 50-person wait list for a 180-person class.
Alam explained the strategy she has used to get into a class.
“I would start harassing the teacher — not really,” Alam said. “Just sending them a lot of e-mails until I heard from them.”
She is now on track to graduate, but is unsure what next quarter will have in store for her.
Third-year, College Eight
Sociology and education minor
Atheena Haniff-Martinez is a third-year sociology major and education minor. In order to graduate, Haniff-Martinez needed to enroll in two upper-division sociology electives. This quarter she crashed three courses: SOCY 142 — Language and Social Interaction, SOCY 137 — Deviance and Conformity, and SOCY 120 — Gender/Sexuality/Culture.
For Haniff-Martinez, her third-year status became the deciding factor of whether or not she was admitted into the courses she crashed.
“They were mostly giving them to seniors,” she said. “Since I’m a junior, I had no chance, basically.”
Haniff-Martinez added another five units to her schedule through an internship with the Chicano/Latino Resource Center. She receives no financial aid and — bogged down with loans — she is frustrated.
“I feel kind of upset because I paid my fees and should be able to get into my classes, but I can’t,” she said. “I needed them for my major.”
Haniff-Martinez’s expected graduation date is June 2012. Not having the ideal schedule has not altered her graduation date yet, she says, but she would be more worried if it did.
Former UCSC student Ken Alley is now a lecturer dealing with the quarterly influx of class crashers. This quarter, Alley had about four students crash a class he is teaching. The students that met the course requirements were able to enroll due to the low number of crashers. Alley knows that crashing is an integral part of enrollment, so he welcomes students’ attempts.
“It’s an important part of classes here,” he said. “I was an undergraduate here 20-something years ago. Back then you ‘shopped’ for classes … Because I have a longer experience here I understand how that functions and I don’t see it as a negative thing.”
Although only four students crashed Alley’s class this quarter, every quarter is different. Alley has had 10 to 15 students on a waiting for list for a class of 20, so that he could not accommodate students. He said he has never held the fate of a student’s timely graduation in his hands. However, Alley is frequently confronted with the task of directing students away from his classes depending upon the courses’ popularity.
“The only time [crashing] can become negative is when I’ve told a student, ‘Sorry, there isn’t room,’ and they keep trying to get into a class.”
Joan Wheeler, a second-year Kresge student, is undecided as far as majors go, but she does want to minor in astrophysics.
This quarter, she crashed Intro to Film Criticism. She attended the lectures for two days, but was not able to enroll. This could affect her ability to graduate, because the class is a prerequisite for the film major.
“I feel like I’ve had to crash a class every quarter that I’ve been here,” Wheeler said. “Crashing classes can be kind of stressful, but it’s necessary if you really want a class.”
Wheeler sympathized with those who have had to crash classes and face the possibility of postponing their graduation.
“Crashing and not getting in [to a class] is most unfortunate when it sets you back in your education plan,” she said.
Wheeler said she doesn’t mind the burgeoning class sizes as much as the reason for them: the competition among students who are desperate for admission.
“As far as the packed classes go, I don’t mind big lectures because I’m sure it’s simply the best way for everyone to learn the same subject matter when so many [students] have to,” she said. “It’s too bad that even then, a lot of people can’t get in [to classes].”
Jessica Rumbel, a Porter fourth-year, is a community studies major and an education minor. This quarter she had to crash a class, EDUC 180, for her minor.
“I got in [the class] because I am a declared [education minor] senior,” she said. “They ended up letting declared [education minor] juniors in too.”
If she had not gotten into this class, it would have affected her ability to get her education minor, because she is graduating in the spring. The fact that only juniors and seniors were let into the class means that underclassmen may be in her same situation in the coming years.
“The last two years, I’ve had to crash classes so much,” she said. “It’s ridiculous that we work so hard and sacrifice so much to come to this institution, and they can’t even give us the security of knowing that we are going to have a spot in the classes we need to take.”
Rumbel expressed her gratitude for having met some success, however.
“I feel very fortunate to have gotten into all the classes I’ve had to crash, and I thank the professors for that,” Rumbel said. “Having to crash classes is just one of the many frustrations that have resulted from student overpopulation.”
Theater Arts and Psychology
Alison Mok, a third-year Merrill student, is a theater arts and psychology double major. She is expecting to graduate in June 2012. This winter quarter, she crashed an upper division social psychology class.
“I was low on the wait list,” Mok said. “The first day I attended the lecture, the professor took about four people [from the wait list], and then said he doesn’t like taking any more than that. So I left. I’ve had to crash one class for my psychology major every quarter, because it is so packed.”
If she had gotten into the social psychology class, she could have graduated this spring, a year early.
Mok was surprised and overwhelmed by the difficulty she met in gaining admission to courses.
“I really wish that classes were less packed. It’s kind of ridiculous how full some [of them] are,” she said. “I expected to crash classes when I came to college, but I never thought it would be this much and so stressful.”