California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Is Cal Lu Losing Its Small School Appeal?

While picking classes my first year at California Lutheran University, I learned quickly to have a backup for my backup plan. Yet even with the perk of early registration from being a note taker for Disability Support Services (DSS), I still struggled to get into a couple of classes.

One of the several appeals of Cal Lutheran is its class sizes. With a student to faculty ratio of 15-to-1 displayed on the Cal Lutheran website and advertised to prospective students, it is easy to see why enrollment has increased.

According to Cal Lutheranโ€™s 2018-2019 census report, approximately 933 students enrolled this past fall, 89 more than fall 2017. This has brought the undergraduate total to 3,059 students.

Although itโ€™s amazing to see more people interested in Cal Lutheran, there has been a significant impact on students when it comes to getting classes.

Sophomore Kirstin Rosa said her decision to choose Cal Lutheran was because of its student to faculty ratio. However, as a double major in political science and psychology, she struggled to find a seat in a psychology class.

โ€œI actually had to take a capstone class as a sophomore โ€“ thatโ€™s the only class available to me,โ€ Rosa said.

She wasnโ€™t alone; several other juniors in her class said they didnโ€™t want to take the course but had no other option.

Approximately 296 students of the 933 first-years declared themselves as psychology majors, according to the Cal Lutheran Fact Book on the university website.

With more students coming in interested in majors such as psychology, Cal Lutheran needs to do more to provide students with classes needed for major and general requirements.

โ€œWe canโ€™t take in historically large classes multiple years in a row; thatโ€™s not sustainable,โ€ Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Jessica Lavariega-Monforti said.

I think adding more sections and increasing class sizes should be a priority. Regardless of if it alters the student to faculty ratio, students should not be placed in courses like capstones before theyโ€™ve had the chance to take other courses meant to prepare them for these advanced courses.

โ€œIf they want to expand students, they have to expand the entire school,โ€ Rosa said.

Rosa said she was stressed from being on the waitlist for three of her five classes. She went around campus trying to get approved, but only succeeded in getting a seat in two of the three classes.

โ€œI think there are more students on the waitlist for longer periods of time, although weโ€™ve generally been able to get people what they need. Might not be their preferred class, but itโ€™s something that meets requirements,โ€ Lavariega-Monforti said.

Lavariega-Monforti discussed the universityโ€™s efforts to add more sections by having faculty teach additional classes and increasing class sizes in a few areas.

She suggested helping students plan out their four years in order to anticipate student needs. Lavariega-Monforti said using student planning helps her and faculty to plan ahead, but it only goes so far when class sizes are growing so quickly.

Departments such as religion department have not increased capacity despite the increase in first-year enrollment and the requirement of religion courses in core curriculum.

Victor Thasiah, professor and religion department chair, explained the class capacity for religion courses is 22, but upper division religion courses have 24 with the discretion of the professor.

โ€œWe try to maintain the kind of setting, that is a big factor on why students chose Cal Lutheran in terms of faculty to student ratio and class sizes,โ€ Thasiah said.

He said the design of the course to foster faculty and student interaction works best with the current class size.

Currently, Thasiah is teaching an upper division religion course that has a waitlist for both sections. When it came to choosing who gets a seat in the class, he went not only by placement on the waitlist, but by year, giving seniors priority.

The excitement of having students interested in our school does not outweigh problems in course availability that come from larger class sizes. Cal Lutheran needs to make studentsโ€™ education the priority and stop overcrowding the school, or at least be prepared to accommodate more students.

Yolanda Arciniega

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