Many UC Santa Barbara students are bearing the brunt of the annual fall quarter course deficiency, with some unable to meet the minimum amount of credits to be a full-time student. The consequences of not meeting the 12-credit minimum requirement include loss of financial aid, housing and student visas.
In light of UCSB’s continuing course shortage, Dean Jeffrey Stopple said that the university is attempting to provide resources and advising for class registration to an unprecedented number of students on campus.
In an email obtained by the Independent, Stopple wrote to Chancellor Henry T. Yang and other UCSB administrators on Sept. 10 that “we are again in our annual fall enrollment crisis, as we have been every fall since 2015,” and that many undergraduates trying to obtain classes are “entirely out of luck.”
However, in an email to the Nexus, Stopple said that as of Sept. 22, “the data indicates that this year is slightly better when it comes to students registering for at least 12 units.”
Stopple said that the reasons for the Fall Quarter 2021 course shortage are multifaceted. Budget reductions in the 2009-10 and 2020-21 school years, alongside an increased number of faculty retirements and separations, are continuing to impact the number of faculty and the number of graduate student teaching assistants (TAs) per department, he said.
In addition, the lack of TAs, a limitation of physical classroom space and a limited number of continuing students participating in the UC Education Abroad Program due to fewer program opportunities are all contributing causes to the lack of class availability, Stopple’s email stated.
“We are helping [students] to navigate the sometimes complicated process of selecting and registering for courses, while we take steps to open up more spaces in courses,” he said.
For second-year undeclared student Eva Hartge, who is attempting to transfer into the psychological and brain sciences major, selecting classes to get into the major proved difficult.
“I originally had 12 credits at my first pass time, but the two classes I needed, chem and calculus, were at the same time,” she said.
After selecting chemistry instead of calculus, Hartge was accidentally left with only 11 units.
“I think I spent three and a half hours on Gold, and my roommate as well, looking for any class that I could get in, and I couldn’t,” Hartge said.
After contacting academic advising, an advisor helped her get onto the waitlist, and ultimately, into a GE class, although she has friends who didn’t have such luck with academic advising.
Similarly, second-year undeclared student Lucy Helmlinger experienced a stressful course selection process. Set back by taking International Baccalaureate, rather than Advanced Placement, classes in high school, Hasbringer’s lack of transferable high school credits puts her near the end of UCSB’s course selection pass times.
Helmlinger’s fall course load included physics, organic chemistry and biology, bringing her to 11 units — one away from being registered as a full-time student and making her ineligible for her G.I. Bill benefits.
“The actual issue came in when I tried to sign up during the second pass time, there wasn’t a single class available to me,” she said. “There wasn’t an [interdisciplinary studies class] either, so there just wasn’t anything, and I couldn’t sign up for a waitlist because I didn’t have full credits.”
According to Helmlinger, the academic advisor she called to talk about her predicament said, “‘You are one of 100 people that have the same issue. I’m sorry, there’s no magic class we can put you in. Just keep looking at the class schedule. Something will open up.’”
Although Helmlinger was eventually able to sign up for Dance 45 after around 60 spots opened up for the class remotely — something she attributes to the university’s response to students like her — she said that it would have been nice to have “a little more guidance.”
“It would have just been nicer if there was a little bit more sympathy,” she said, although she added she understood there was “no magic class.” “It definitely just sounded like [the academic advisor] [had] been dealing with the same issue all week and he was done with it.”
Stopple wrote in the email that he is discouraged by the state of the course crisis.
“I am discouraged enough that if I were not already stepping down,” he said about his current plan to already leave his position at UCSB, “I would now.”
A version of this article appeared on p. 3 of the Sept. 30, 2021 print edition of the Daily Nexus.