Enrollments at San Francisco City College are up 18% since the city announced a deal to provide free tuition to all San Francisco residents.
Students are noticing lines at the bookstore, parking congestion, and these are all good signs. Overflowing classrooms and suggestions to students to take a related class offered at the same time as a congested one are becoming more frequent.
“Frustration is high, but so is the energy,” said Madeline Mueller, chair of the City College music department.
Crowded classrooms signal a college in transition after a 2012 accreditation crisis led to plunging enrollment and empty desks. In the years that followed, enrollment dovetailed from 90,000 to 65,000 full- and part-time students.
In January of 2017, the college received accreditation after five years of a “dark cloud” hanging over campus, Mueller says the staff is “ecstatic” to see overflowing classrooms rather than empty ones.
“We’re busy stealing chairs from each other, but happily so,” she said.
Leslie Milloy, the college’s new “Free City” director, says few accommodations have been required to host the influx of new students because, simply, the campus is already well-equipped to receive them.
“We’re used to being able to serve over 90,000 students,” she said.
Currently, the college is busy adding sections, says Mueller, rather than axing them. In the first week of classes alone, administrators penciled 100 new sections into the schedule.
“For me, it’s a going home kind of moment,” she said. “I recently had a student yell at me because he couldn’t add a fully enrolled class. I thought it was wonderfully refreshing.”