Super Happy Fun Semester: It Begins!

The Fall semester is now upon us, in much the same way you might imagine a ton of bricks or a locomotive would be upon us.

And honestly, it's much worse for the students than it is for me.

We are still in the land of The State Budget That Just Can't Give Higher Education A Break. Millions of dollars are being cut from our campus budget and millions more will need to be cut if a ballot measure to raise sales taxes and income taxes on the highest earners goes down in November.

One response has been to cut lots of classes from the Fall schedule, since classes eat up money for faculty salaries, as well as classrooms (excepting the online classes). In particular, this response was made manifest in the elimination of nearly every class that did not have an enrollment of at least 15 students by some arbitrary date (a couple of weeks ago, I think) before the start of the semester.

This was not great news for the up to 14 students enrolled in these course offerings that were vaporized. Some of these may have been crucial courses for their majors, while others may have filled general education requirements that students need to satisfy to graduate. In any event, these students whose classes up and vanished have joined the already crowded throngs of students trying like mad to find spaces in the courses that still exist, where often it is the case that there are five or more students trying to get an add code for every available seat.

Those are not odds that would make me cheerful. Despite this, the students asking me for add codes have shown a remarkable amount of forbearance.

Meanwhile, as I've mentioned before, despite the elimination of many (perhaps hundreds of) classes, officially we are supposed to maintain the same level of full time enrolled students ... because student fees now amount to more than the chunk of money the state puts up for each student. Logically, this means class sizes need to get bigger, but the seating capacity of the classrooms seems not to have magically increased over the summer.

Of course, the administration has put out feelers to gauge the willingness of our department, and others, to increase class size for one of our courses to 700. (Our willingness: non-existent.)

Buckle up, folks. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

5 responses so far

  • Rugosa says:

    I feel your pain. I worked as an admin assistant at my alma mater, a state university, for a couple of years. The administration wanted to increase enrollment to increase income, but state funding kept shrinking, and, as you note, the classrooms didn't increase in capacity. Fees had to rise, making the state u less competitive with private univs and colleges. There's plenty of those around here. The state u is now embarked on a building and expansion plan, which is needed, but once the physical plan is built the state still isn't interested in funding operating expenses and keeping tuition and fees affordable for working and middle class families.

  • Dan says:

    I want to thank you for writing honestly about what is going at your institution. I don't think I'd really have any idea how bad it is at CSU without your posts.

  • Michelle says:

    As a physics undergrad, I often took upper-division physics and math courses with less than 15 enrolled students.

  • Carrie says:

    Like Dan, I thank you for giving us some real insight into the current state of the CSU system. As a proud alum of a CSU school, I am saddened to see the tenets of that system fall by the wayside. The BEST thing about my education was small class sizes, very few if any TAs, and one-on-one interactions with my professors. I know all those factors lead to my decision to pursue my grad degree and my leadership success outside of academia.

    I applied for a CSU faculty position at my alma mater last year, and did not get an interview. At the time I was incredibly disappointed, but now I realize that a) I was too senior and they probably couldn't afford me and b) I don't think the job would have been what I was hoping it would be based upon my experience as a student 20 years ago. As I said, this saddens me immensely.

    700 people in one class. That's shameful.

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