Fall enrollment is off to a surging start at Santa Rosa Junior College as students race for space in a reduced number of classes.
Nearly 5,000 students signed up for classes Monday and Tuesday, the first days of enrollment for students with top priority in the registration process.
The figure marks a 20 percent increase over the same period last year even as the number of sections offered by the college has been cut by nearly 11 percent since last fall due to budget concerns. The 2011 fall semester begins Aug. 22.
"Students are more prepared. They are ready and they are jumping on it right away," said Diane Traversi, SRJC director of admissions. "We are going to fill up faster than ever."
Generally speaking, SRJC students gain priority in the registration process as they accumulate units or take steps such as meeting with counselors.
The tiered sign-up system ends July 18 when anyone can start signing up for classes, though by then many sections will be full.
Kelli Smith, a nursing student with top registration priority, worked Monday from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., preventing her from getting to a computer until hours after registration opened at 6 a.m.
By the time she got on-line, the anatomy, microbiology, and phlebotomy classes she wanted were full, she said. She plans to sit-in on those classes anyway, waiting for drop-outs to create room.
Still, school officials said students who don't have early registration should not lose heart. The pinch for seats always is most acute in science classes, especially in prerequisites for health degrees, which often fill within days.
But general education classes will be available when registration opens to all, Traversi said, though they may start to disappear quickly.