•College gets $2.5 million award to redesign enrollment process.
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• Students will be able to enroll in a full year of classes at one time.
• West Hills was among 14 schools statewide to get the funding.
West Hills Community College District earned a $2.5 million state award that will allow the district to overhaul its enrollment process by allow students to register for a full academic year.
West Hills is among 14 colleges to earn the money. In all, 52 California colleges and universities applied for the $50 million in prize money, which Gov. Jerry Brown set aside as part of his Awards for Innovation in Higher Education program. To get the money, higher educational institutions must undertake creative and cost-effective ways to get more students to earn degrees sooner.
West Hills was the only one of six Valley colleges or universities to get funding through the governor’s initiative. West Hills also was one of six junior colleges to get funded. The other eight were four-year universities.
The change in scheduling is designed to emphasize the importance of completion-oriented educational planning, rather than a semester-by-semester view of class registration and enrollment, grant documents said. The district’s 6,500 students at campuses in Lemoore, Coalinga and Firebaugh can take part in year-round scheduling.
Scheduling classes year-round required a new philosophy by the district, said Don Warkentin, president of West Hills College Lemoore.
“It was not something we did overnight,” he said. “It took a year or two of planning to get everyone on board.”
The idea was initially presented by District Chancellor Frank Gornick, Warkentin said.
The new approach required getting admissions, advising and financial aid offices organized, the instructional office on board for scheduling, and assigning faculty more than a semester ahead. The information technology division also had to open up registration for the whole year.
“We will start registration in April and you can register for summer, fall and spring and you will be guaranteed a seat in a class and know what your schedule is like,” Warkentin said.
When students have the classes they need, Warkentin said, they can transfer to a four-year school more easily and sooner.