Left in the Hall

Nearly a third of community college students were unable to enroll in one or more classes last semester because they were full, according to a new national survey.

Commissioned by the Pearson Foundation, the survey was conducted by Harris Interactive between Sept. 27 and Nov. 4, 2010, amid an enrollment crunch at many community colleges around the country. Responses from the 1,434 students ages 18-59 who participated in the survey were weighted to be representative of the U.S. community college student population.

Even the 22 percent of community college students who took placement tests had difficulties enrolling in the courses in which they placed. Nearly 30 percent of students who took English or mathematics placement tests were unable to enroll in all of their recommended courses last semester. Experts on remedial education say students have a better chance of success if they are helped immediately, rather than being allowed to take other courses that they may fail without necessary training.

On the whole, community college students enrolled in fewer courses than they had originally planned for last semester. The average student planned to take 3.3 courses but ultimately enrolled in 2.9 courses. Many educators argue that community college students who carry heavier course loads and continue to make consistent progress toward a credential have a greater chance of completion.

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