Elizabeth Bucher did all she could to get into Biology 2.1 this semester, the last class she needs to transfer to U.C. Davis in the fall.
All spots in the class were taken before her registration window even opened, and so last week, she crashed the first day of class in hopes of finding an empty seat.
But two dozen others had the same idea, leaving the instructor to draw lots for six spots, a lottery that the 19-year-old -- and most of the others — lost.
“It was really disappointing just because now I know I have to be at the at JC another year,” Bucher said.
Delayed transfers are an increasingly common fear at SRJC where staff reductions and rising student demand have made getting some crucial classes as difficult as passing them.
The problem, according to school counselors, is especially acute for science, math and engineering students who face a rigid path of sequential courses, many with strictly limited enrollment due to lab space.
Miss out on one or two classes and suddenly everything can get out of whack, said Greg Sheldon, a counselor who frequently works with science students.
The problem is compounded because the California State University and University of California systems have restricted spring transfers.
Students such as Bucher may be able to make up a spring class in the fall, but they likely won't be able to transfer until the following autumn.
“If they are missing one course, they are up a creek,” Sheldon said. “The opportunity cost for transfer students has escalated in the last two years and I don't believe people are aware of that.”
Frustrations were evident Friday in instructor Matt Bradley's physics lab, which drew an overflow of nearly 20 students hoping for space in a class that had filled by the time they had begun to register.
Some said Bradley's lab was the last class they needed to get bachelor's degrees, to qualify for graduate school, or to transfer to a university.