Low enrollment causes shrinking class sizes at LMC

Vanessa Flores

This spring semester Los Medanos College is experiencing something unusual, extra class space has become available for the first time since budgets began a few semesters ago.

LMC’s Vice President Kevin Horan sent out an email Wednesday to all faculties at LMC to address the issue. In the email, he emphasized the importance of classes being filled when possible to the outlined class maximums.

“We believe the decrease in enrollment is due to numerous factors,” said Horan, who cited the economy as one of the causes for the under-enrollment situation. While Horan believes that the economy continues to improve, “the trends over the years suggest that when the economy improves we see a drop in enrollments.”

“It may be a combination of students becoming discouraged by being turned away, unable to secure a seat in needed classes for the last several years, and a slight uptick in the economy,” said Chair of English and ESL Nancy Ybarra. “If there are more jobs, fewer students typically enroll in the community college to advance their skills.”

“Like workers who give up on looking for work after being unemployed for some time, it is possible that some students gave up on getting into classes at the community college because we have severely cut the number of sections offered over the last several years,” said Ybarra.

“We believe that the message of, ‘we’re full, there are no classes’ has unfortunately become an automatic assumption and we are working hard to change that perception,” said Horan.

LMC is funded by the State on a Full-Time Equivalent Student (FTES) basis. They must reach the number of FTES the State is willing to fund. “We are looking to be a bit short of that funding base, so we will likely need to add classes to reach this base number,” said Horan. LMC is projecting that they will likely be under-enrolled by approximately 100-150 FTES. Ybarra says that being under-enrolled has affected ESL courses, some of which may be cancelled if enrollment does not increase by Friday, the last day to add.

As a result of this issue LMC has been reaching out to students electronically to let them know that there are open classes with available seats. January 25 is the last day to add full-term classes.