Elizabeth Bucher, 19, did all she could to get into Biology 2.1 this semester, the last class she needs to transfer to UC Davis.
All spots were full before her registration window even opened, and so she crashed the first day of class last week in search of an empty seat.
But two dozen other students had the same idea, leaving the instructor no choice but to draw lots for six spots, a lottery that the Healdsburg High grad — and most of the other hopefuls — lost.
"It was really disappointing just because now I know I have to be at the JC another year," she said.
Delayed transfers are a rising fear at SRJC, where course reductions and rising student demand have made enrolling in some crucial classes virtually as challenging as the classes themselves.
The worry, school counselors say, is most acute for science, math and engineering students, who face a rigid path of sequential courses, many with strictly limited enrollments due to lab space.
Miss one or two classes and suddenly everything can get out of whack, said Greg Sheldon, a longtime counselor who frequently works with science students.
"This is the first time in my history here that I literally have to tell students, &‘I'm sorry, not getting that class just cost you another year here at the JC,'" Sheldon said.
He said the problem is compounded because the California State University and University of California systems have dramatically curtailed spring transfers.
"If they are missing one course, they are up a creek," he said.