The path through SF State, from application to graduation, might be getting a little bumpier next year.
University administration announced Feb. 19 that it will be proposing the impaction of nine additional majors for the beginning of the Fall 2014 semester.
The proposed majors include accounting with a concentration in business, biology, communications, criminal justice, health education, kinesiology, sociology and undeclared with an interest in nursing.
“We have been following certain majors with increased demands. It has been building up for a while,” Jo Volkert, vice president for student affairs and enrollment management, said, referring to an increased amount of students applying for certain departments. “Program impaction allows you to control the flow of students into a major. Right now, certain majors have doubled in the last five to 10 years.”
A major may be designated as impacted when the number of qualified applications received by the University is greater than the number of students that can be served in available classes. In a situation like this, there are generally two responses possible, according to assistant professor of Asian American Studies and SF State chapter president of the California Faculty association, Wei Ming Dariotis. Those two responses are declare impaction or increase available faculty resources to support students.
Those who wish to apply for admission into impacted majors are required to meet a higher standard including a combination of grades and standardized test scores.
“When applying, students may be required to have a writing sample or a personal statement,” Volkert said. “In most majors we are looking at, they are leaning toward lower division classes to be taken and certain grades to be earned.”
According to Volkert, with just a grade point average standard, students might take easier classes at their high school or community college. When too many qualified students get admitted, the departments get overwhelmed.
“It is a long planning horizon,” Volkert said. “We announce it (the impacted majors) to the public this far in advance so that students in high school or community college can know what they need to do and what prerequisites to do.”
Dariotis understands why these departments were chosen for impaction, but urges the University to find options in alleviating pressure.
“If you don’t put more resources into faculty, for example, hiring more faculty, is one way to put more resources into the faculty to support the students,” Dariotis said. “There are a number of ways to offset the issue. The way that would be preferable from a union’s perspective is to hire more tenured track faculty so they could serve the students at a larger capacity.”
Dariotis commented that the most dramatic effect will be on the students enrolled in the impacted departments. She believes that the unseen issue of students who are not able to get into a major as a result of impaction is problematic.
“It’s kind of a problem that we’re seeing throughout our system overall as particular universities also declare impaction,” Dariotis said. “The effect is that if your campus declares impaction, while you maintain your regular enrollment criteria for local students, students outside the local area, outside the immediate service area of the campus, have to meet a higher requirement to enroll. There is negative impact on access to this education, which is supposed to be free public higher education.”
Aaron Einhorn, 21, is a sociology major and said that getting classes is already difficult. Specifically, sociology electives, because there are not as many available. Einhorn did, however, take a winter session course which he recommends, but also worries about graduating on time.
“There are classes that need to be taken in succession and if I am not able to sign up for one, it might delay my graduation by a whole semester, which would push my plans for graduate school and beyond a year,” Einhorn said. “I think the social sciences are often looked down upon as easy majors for stoners and weirdos, so I think schools are hesitant to give programs more money and and classes.”
Volkert’s suggestion for students who are already in impacted majors or will be applying for one is to stay on top of advising and be conscious of prerequisites. Doing so will allow students to stay on the right track and utilize SF State’s academic road maps.
SF State is planning to submit an impaction request to the California State University by the April 1 deadline for requesting impaction for the 2014-15 academic year. The University will also hold a series of three public hearings to discuss the impactions: Monday, March 18, 4 p.m. at the City College of San Francisco; Tuesday, March 19, 4 p.m. at the Library in room 244; Wednesday, March, 20, location to be determined.
Additional reporting by Jonathan Ramos.