With the semester approaching its end, registration for spring courses is now open. While some students rush to sign up for classes to make sure they get their preferred choices and avoid the dreaded waitlist, other students hope the classes they sign up for will simply attract enough students to be offered.
“There are low enrolled classes throughout the curriculum,” Associate Provost of Academic Services and Registrar Maria Kohnke said. “Almost every department has issues with them.”
Kohnke said she has seen issues with low enrollment every semester, and has found a routine on how to handle it.
“What usually happens is department chairs start looking at their classes and see if any of them have low enrollment, and they might promote it to students, especially if it’s a class that reaches a requirement in a major that students may not know about,” Kohnke said.
According to the Cal Lutheran Registrar website, classes are considered to have low enrollment when they have fewer than eight students. Depending on how early in the registration process it is, the class could either get canceled or they could keep monitoring it, Kohnke said.
“There’s some classes that if you look at the history of it they may be low now, but they’ll be fine later,” Kohnke said.
Kohnke also recognizes that some classes need to be offered regardless of how many students sign up, making for some creative alternatives.
“If the students need it to graduate, that is taken into account. It may be low enrolled but the students in it may need it to graduate so the class may be turned into a ‘tutorial,’” Kohnke said.
According to the Cal Lutheran website, a tutorial is a “course listed in the catalog, but not scheduled in a given semester,” and students must fill out a form to register.
Although there are low enrollment classes in every major at the university, David Nelson, an associate professor of history, explained why it may seem like majors such as history struggle more with low enrollment.
“In general, our classes do not have problems with low enrollment except for capstone courses,” Nelson said. “We have three majors, so three different capstones, so we do not always have the minimum eight student enrollment.”
Senior history and political science double major Ellie Barker said she has first-hand experience with the issue of low enrollment in history capstone classes.
“History in general is a small major, so I wasn’t that surprised that there were only five or six of us enrolled in the capstone class, so we had to find more people to join,” Barker said.
While Barker and other students were able to find students willing to join their capstone class, it is not always possible to find more students. Barker said they then have to turn the class into a tutorial.
“Because only two of us are doing the capstone in the spring, we’ve had to have that class be a ‘tutorial,’” Barker said. “From what I understand, it’s still a course but professors are not being paid the same for it.”
Kohnke confirmed that professors who hold ‘tutorials’ get paid “a different rate than traditional classes.”
Despite the extra lengths students and staff have to go through for certain classes to take place on campus, Barker has been able to find a way to get all the classes she needs.
“We’ve managed to survive, classes have been offered and I have been able to get my capstone project done,” Barker said.
Kohnke recommends any student who thinks they may be at risk of not getting the classes they need to come talk to the Registrar’s office, as they can help find a plan that works for everybody.