At Santa Rosa Junior College, students vying to get into fast-filling classes will soon need to be ready to pounce at an hour when many might prefer to be sleeping.
The school is ending an era where students who qualify for early registration are assigned two-hour enrollment windows between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Starting with fall registration next month, all students in a particular group will face the same start time — midnight.
There will still be priority registration based on a returning student's status, but within the priority everyone will have the same start time.
Diane Traversi, SRJC's director of admissions, said the new approach will be fairer, favoring more motivated students rather than those who simply got lucky with a good time.
"Every one gets basically the same starting line for the race," she said. "There is no staggering. Everybody gets the same chance."
The change is no small thing at a school where it's becoming increasingly difficult to get classes as budget cuts and increased demand pinch from both sides.
On the first day of summer school registration last Monday, 2,200 students signed up for classes, 300 more than on the same day last year, vying for instructors whose numbers were cut by 16 percent.
Pablo Betancourt was among those registering on the first day, a privilege related to the number of units he has earned.
At SRJC, students generally gain priority as they earn units, though they can also move up by meeting with guidance counselors or attending orientations.
Even with "Priority 1," though, Betancourt had to wait until his assigned start time at 4 p.m., nine hours after the first students in his priority group started nabbing spots.