Students taking classes during the Extended Spring term were shocked to find out that the courses they were told would transfer to universities for Fall 2013 are in jeopardy of being rejected.
The administration has been embroiled in a controversy since last year over its decision to cancel the Winter Intersession. Students complained to the board of trustees that their university admission was contingent on their classes being completed by the end of the spring semester.
The cancellation of the Winter Session left a lot of students unable to transfer. Thatâ€™s when the administration guaranteed students that it would schedule courses in what was to be called Extended Spring thus allowing the classes to be accepted by the universities.
Both the UC and CSU systems do not generally accept classes for transfer if they are not completed before the spring term, no matter when the term ends, according to their admissions requirements guidelines.
The college has known about the problem since early June, but students were just notified on Thursday. That is when the counseling office e-mailed all students taking classes in Extended Spring saying the term would now be called â€œSummerâ€ on transcripts because the college found itself in noncompliance with Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations. If the Extended Spring term were kept non-compliant, the college would have been at risk of losing up to $16 million in Prop.30 funding, according to officials.
Dr. Robert Bell, senior vice president of student and learning services, advised students who have concerns about their classes transferring to contact the PCC Counseling Office atÂ (626) 585-7251, or by email atÂ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Robert Miller, senior vice president of business and college services, explained that a major miscommunication between the college and the California Community Colleges Chancellorâ€™s Office led to the fiasco with Extended Spring classes no longer being transferable for those planning to transfer in Fall 2013.
The college was at first assured by the Chancellorâ€™s office that it was in compliance with Title 5, section 55722, which allows the college to make a flexible calendar within an academic year, Miller said. However, that same section requires the college to have its flexible calendar approved by the Chancellorâ€™s Office, and it must meet specific requirements.
Miller said the Chancellorâ€™s Office contacted the college in late May to express concerns it had about the Extended Spring term and possible noncompliance with Title 5.
â€œThe Chancellorâ€™s office said yes, and then on further consideration and closer review of code sections, they said no,â€ he said. Attempts to reach the Chancellorâ€™s office for comment were unsuccessful.
Miller added that if the college chose to consider Extended Spring part of the spring semester and not as a summer term, the college would have fallen out of compliance which would translate into a loss of up to $16 million in funding.
The state requires the college to enroll a specific number of Full Time Equivalent Students (FTES) to obtain Prop.30 funding.Â The minimum FTES the college needs to get funding this year is 19,640, according to Miller. By making Extended Spring a summer term, the college will meet its requirements and is expected to receive more than $16 million in Proposition 30 funding. Miller explained that the money would go towards adding classes.
Proposition 30 was passed by voters on Nov. 7 last year, and its aim was to give California Community Colleges funding for classes, according to its website.
â€œOur goal is to offer as many sections as we can to be as efficient as we can to maximize student access,â€ he said. If the Extended Spring students were not counted as part of the summer term, the college would be losing some of that money, Miller said.
Dr. Bell agreed with Miller. â€œWe needed to maximize our FTES,â€ he said. Because the college made Extended Spring a summer term, the college will be able to offer classes in the second summer term.
Under Bellâ€™s leadership, the administration and counseling department are creating a game plan to contact universities for students who are concerned that their Extended Spring classes will not be accepted for Fall 2013 transfer.Â So far they are concentrating on students who have told counselors that they expect problems transferring.
â€œWe are working in groups with a team captain, so to speak, to contact schools in a hyper focused manner,â€ Bell said.
Each team will work with universities to re-inform them of the situation with Extended Spring on transcripts, and will advocate for self-identified students who say which universities they were planning on transferring to. The teams will begin their work on Monday, June 24, and they will have until July 15, the transfer deadline date, to complete their work of getting each at-risk transfer student transferred.
So far, the college has heard from 41 students concerned about transferring, Miller said. Â However, many more may be affected.
The e-mail from counseling was sent out to all 8,400 students who took the Extended Spring term. It explained the situation of transferability and was designed to give students who didnâ€™t know about the problem a chance to get help from the college in transferring.
â€œWe are working in the best interest of students,â€ Bell said. â€œIâ€™m confident we will be able to get [all Fall 2013 transfers] done.â€
If winter were kept, this wouldnâ€™t have happened
If the college had kept the Winter Intersession, those who planned to transfer this fall and took classes then, would have had no issues transferring to their respective universities.
According to Simon Fraser, former Associated Students president and current student trustee, just renaming the Extended Spring term is a result of poor planning.
â€œWe jumped in without foresight and without research,â€ he said. â€œâ€I warned [the administration] that this would be an issue. I stand by my belief that the best decision for the college is to have a Winter Intersession.â€
Bell admitted that if a winter intersession were still in place, few issues with transfer would have occurred. â€œBut itâ€™s not all about that,â€ he said. â€œKnowing everything I know, I donâ€™t think it will happen again next year.â€
A calendar with a winter intersession, which is recommended by the Calendar Committee, is waiting for its consideration by the board of trustees.
The big question that remains is whether the college will add a Winter Intersession for the next school year.