Santa Rosa Junior College students seeking to transfer to a four-year school and those working toward a certificate or degree will be given priority when it comes to enrollment in classes, according to the Press Democrat.
The changes are the result of budget cuts that have frozen teacher positions and reduced class offerings and were recommended by a statewide task force earlier this year.
Funding for California junior colleges has been reduced by $809 million since 2008, forcing them to eliminate classes and constrict enrollment.
"In the past, community colleges have been able to serve everyone, and students could accrue a large number of units or do poorly in all of their courses and still receive priority registration," Jack Scott, Santa Rosa Junior College Chancellor told the Press Democrat.
"Now that colleges have had to cut back on the courses they can offer, those students were taking up seats in classrooms and crowding out newer students focused on job training, degree attainment or transfer."
The junior college has traditionally served a dual role as a place where students could accrue credits before transferring to a four-year school as well as take enrichment classes in everything from dance to Spanish to literature.
With the shift, some are worried about impacts on students who are still exploring what degree they want to pursue and may not have a concrete study plan.
"On the one hand, I think it gives them a map and a sense of direction," said SRJC teacher Anne Marie Insull told the Press Democrat. "But it is kind of good to just be here, and that is the worrying aspect. Not everyone has a plan, and sometimes college is a place to figure things out."