San Francisco State looks to clear path for students denied access to classes in major 

SFSU wants to help students graduate faster by making it easier for them to get classes they need. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • SFSU wants to help students graduate faster by making it easier for them to get classes they need.

The popularity of certain majors at San Francisco State University is preventing students from getting classes and graduating on time, but the administration is proposing a plan to clear out the bottleneck and put undergraduates in lectures they need.

The proposal would label nine existing majors as “impacted,” which means there isn’t enough room for the number of qualified applicants. As a result, it would be tough for new students to get into the major.

“We’re trying to do all kinds of things to help students graduate,” said Jo Volkert, interim vice president for student affairs and enrollment management. “The more students that graduate, the more room you have for students coming from community college or high school.”

The impacted majors would include accounting with a concentration in business, biology, biochemistry-chemistry, communications studies, criminal justice, health education, kinesiology, sociology and undeclared majors with an interest in nursing.

If these majors become labeled as impacted, students wanting to enroll would need to have better grades and standardized test scores to gain admission.

The university already has 10 other majors labeled as impacted. SFSU offers 78 different majors.

The proposal, which is expected to be submitted to the California State University board of trustees by April 1, was created in response to the growing number of students who take longer than the typical four years to graduate, mainly because classes are not available.

“The whole purpose is to get them out faster,” Volkert said.

If approved, the impacted majors would go into effect for fall 2014.

In November, CSU trustees postponed a vote that would raise the fees for students still enrolled at one of the 23 campuses after their fourth year, also in an effort to alleviate  crowding by motivating students to finish their degrees sooner. The vote was postponed after the approval of Proposition 30, which temporarily raised sales and income taxes. Some of that money will go to higher education.

But many students also complained that they were still in school because of the lack of available classes. In February 2011, that prompted former SFSU President Robert Corrigan to create a website that allowed students to air their grievances.

A student identified on the website as Katherine S. said she had been trying to get into nursing school, but had to push back her application because she could not enroll in an anatomy class, which was a pre-requisite.

“I’m not sure when I will graduate because the year that I apply to nursing school is dependent upon my being able to actually take the prerequisite courses I need,” she said. “However, I can’t take them if I can’t get into them simply because of a lack of seats.”

Public meetings for the proposed impact majors:

  • 4 p.m. March 18, City College of San Francisco, Multi-Use Building 140
  • 4 p.m. March 19, S.F. State, Library 244
  • March 20, time and location to be determined
  • For more information, visit
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