Registration woes

By: Jonathan Baca, Senior Reporter | Photo By: Jonathan Gamboa, Production Manager

Class options limit welding students’ progress

Students in the Welding program are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to register for required courses, said Full-time Welding Instructor Ron Hackney.

After complet­ing the first or second terms of their structured qualifica­tion programs, many students who tried to register for the spring semester found no open seats and full waiting lists for nearly all of the required courses, said Welding major Austin Wessell.

“When I tried to register for my next term classes, just about every class was filled up and had a waiting list before I was even allowed to sign up,” said Wessell.

Hackney said that many trade programs like Welding have become so popular that the school simply does not have room for every interested student.

“There is a high demand to get into and continue in this program, so there are limited slots avail­able. There is an issue with the classes get­ting filled up before students even have an opportunity to regis­ter,” said Hackney.

Unlike other pro­grams, trades are lim­ited in the number of students that can attend because of lim­ited space and equip­ment, he said.

Hackney said he encourages students who are put on waiting lists to wait and see if additional sec­tions are added, and to communicate with their instructors about other possible options.

“Nine times out of ten, our administra­tion is all for adding new sections. The issue then is where to put them, because we do have limited lab space,” he said.

Associate Dean of Applied Technologies Michael Cranney said that determining the number of sections to provide for each course is a complex balancing act involv­ing several factors.

The number of interested students, expected drop-out rates, available instructors, and the limited amount of lab space and equipment all must be taken into account, he said.

Cranney said that because of the amount of high paying jobs cur­rently available in the industry, retention rates for the Welding pro­gram are unusually high, further limiting space.

“If waiting lists are big enough, we will open up new sections. The hours may not be perfect for students, but if that is really what they want to pursue, we’re going to see what we can do to help them,” said Cranney.

Hackney said that demand is high enough that the school could drastically increase the size of the pro­gram and still fill every class. However, he said this may not be in the students’ best long-term interests.

“The program could probably be double the size it is now. The problem is will the industry sup­port that many weld­ers? We don’t want to be a program that graduates students who then can’t find jobs,” said Hackney.

Cranney said the Welding program is planning to hire one full-time and several part-time instructors to help meet student demand. There are no plans to add to exist­ing lab space.

“Now we’re kind of maxed out on physical space available to us,” said Cranney.

Hackney said he is proud of the pro­gram, and feels that too many students is a good problem to have.

“And if we can’t get you into the labs, there are other classes, like Arts and Sciences, you can take to meet your certificate or degree requirements. So it doesn’t have to be a totally wasted term,” said Hackney.

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