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Crowded CSUN Sets Record for Enrollment


Cal State Northridge officials say this fall's record enrollment of 32,596 is a compliment, but they acknowledge it comes with a major downside: There is a shortage of classroom space.

The campus is so much in demand that some students couldn't even set foot on it this semester because the admission window closed earlier than ever, part of a trend seen throughout the 23-campus Cal State University system.

"We're doing everything we can to accommodate the students," said Louanne Kennedy, CSUN provost and vice president of academic affairs. "We're even offering classes in conference rooms. If there's a space available, we're going to use it."

Officials said the high interest is an indication that the university has become a "destination campus" rather than a school where people go to seek transfer credits.

CSUN set its previous enrollment record just last semester, with 31,681 students enrolling for spring classes. Enrollment was 29,092 a decade ago, but dipped to 24,310 in fall 1994, after the Northridge earthquake.

This session, nearly every classroom and lecture hall is full from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., and classes are also being held on Saturdays and Sundays. Many faculty members are taking on more students than they had planned, officials said.

Some students didn't get into their first-choice classes, said CSUN spokeswoman Carmen Ramos Chandler. And others couldn't get any classes at all. Admission of first-time freshmen closed last November, the earliest ever. Acceptance of lower-division transfer applications ended in February, and the window for upper-division transfer students closed in March.

This semester, the campus also did not accept new students applying for second bachelor's degrees.

There's no relief in sight for the 2003-2004 term, Chandler said. "This is going to be a real problem, not just for us, but for the entire Cal State system," she said, adding that virtually every campus is seeing record enrollments.

The draw appears to be economic. More students--children of baby boomers and immigrants--are graduating from high school.

"They want to succeed in life. It's that simple," Chandler said. "And with the economic uncertainty, more people are returning to school to get degrees they never finished."

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