CSU authorizes online courses for concurrent enrollment amongst all schools in the system.

Imran Majid

The California State University system announced a new Intrasystem Concurrent Enrollment program in July, enabling students to enroll in fully-online courses at other CSU campuses and progress quicker towards a degree.

 Eligible students may choose to enroll in one of 33 online courses in areas including geography, business finance and visual communication to satisfy general education and graduation requirements.

 “We’re trying to provide additional avenues for access for students and also help students get closer to a degree,” said CSU Director of Public Affairs Mike Uhlenkamp.

 Uhlenkamp said the idea of the program is to address course bottlenecks – classes students need but are unable to join for reasons such as space and faculty limitations.

 While Gov. Jerry Brown’s January budget proposal earmarked $10 million for online education, he later line-vetoed the funding, allowing the CSU to decide how to allocate the additional money.

 The CSU remained committed to researching other opportunities to obtain a degree and decided to invest in online education to provide additional choices for students.

 As Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies, Sheree Meyer is responsible for overseeing undergraduate curriculum, graduation requirements and compliance of the Chancellor’s Executive Orders at Sacramento State.

 She said Intrasystem Concurrent Enrollment is part of a larger Chancellor’s initiative to address course bottlenecks, and a balancing act between access, quality and student success must be maintained.

 “There’s always been this effort to (reach) out to students who may not have access to campus,” Meyer said. “I see the Intrasystem Concurrent Enrollment as a continuation of that; a broadening of options both pedagogical and for access.”

 While CSU students could already enroll in other classes at other campuses, Meyer said the Intrasystem Concurrent Enrollment is a more organized initiative of approved fully-online courses that meet undergraduate requirements.

 Several factors – including budget limitations and legislative pressure – influenced the Chancellor’s Office to adapt the Intrasystem Concurrent Enrollment for the fall 2013 semester, despite different calendars among campuses and student schedules already set.

 “It was a combination of internal stresses and external,” Meyer said. “How do we meet the needs of a growing student population with fewer resources? The Chancellor’s initiative came about in part in conversation with the legislators and in conversations with the CSU campuses on how we could help improve as a system with bottleneck courses.”

 As students apply for the Intrasystem Concurrent Enrollment program, the Office of the University Registrar will check student eligibility requirements, and communicate with the host campus to ensure a smooth transition.

 “It’s an additional availability of other courses that may fit into (a student’s) academic schedule for the term,” said University Registrar Dennis Geyer.

 As part of the Chancellor’s initiative, Sac State submitted six online courses with evidence of strong student success. The Chancellor’s Office selected two classes to be taught across campuses – Music Appreciation and Recreation and Leisure Lifestyle Development.

 Fue Thao, a senior biology major, said he prefers face-to-face interactions, and online classes make it convenient to slack off.

 “I would try to crash classes, but if I can’t and (Intrasystem Concurrent Enrollment) is my only option, I would do it,” Thao said. “But I would still prefer sitting in class and having (a) pencil then and there with a professor.”

 Meyer said Intrasystem Concurrent Enrollment allows the CSU to share resources and provide alternate options and appeal to more types of students, such as parents and workers.

 “A lot of (Sac State) students are older,” Meyer said. “They’re juggling jobs (and) families. Anytime you have that many demands on a student population, if you give them additional options (it) can improve access and facilitate time to graduation.”

Current students in good academic standing who have earned at least 12 units and have paid tuition as a full-time student at Sac State can visit www.calstate.edu/concurrent to apply for the program.