["Broken Heart" by Fabu]
No one likes cancelled courses at UCLA Extension. Not you, not me. It sucks on my end because first I have to call the instructor - I'm sorry, James Fish - then I have to call the students. Or, if I'm feeling too sad, sometimes I delegate that part to Joan or Ana. Okay, really they do it most of the time, which is really helpful.
You may wonder how or why it happens. Well, this quarter I'm going with the standard explanation for all things 2009: it's the economy. We just don't have as many people signing up for graphic design courses as we did last spring or even last quarter. I get it.
When we decide to cancel a course it's based on the number of students enrolled. Or not enrolled, as the case may be. If there are too few then it can make for an awkward course (sometimes a couple drop or transfer after the first meeting too) and it can make for a loss of money. We have a lot of invisible overhead. Yes, when you look at the prices in the catalog you may think we're raking it in, but there are a lot of expenses - the room, the technology, the salary, the parking. It's all in there. We really are a lean machine, trying to offer you the best possible courses with the raddest (yeah, that's right, raddest, I said it) instructors around for the best possible price.
There are no bonuses being distributed here. Also, I don't have an expense account, which seems like a nice thing to have.
There is also the mystery factor. Why do some courses attract a ton of eager students one quarter then don't the next? Why do some courses that sound amazing fail to attract students? Often Cristina and I will plan a new course and get all excited about it making its debut. It's going to be a hit! Students are going to love it! Then, silence.
Sometimes I think that Design Communication Arts students prefer the known, like most people I suppose. You want to take a course that has a very clear outcome, something that clearly relates to the marketplace. For example, Illustrator in the lab has only one spot left. That's something that is maybe more comfortable - it's a skill you can put on you resume right away and march into the market with. Courses that focus more on projects and portfolio pieces sometimes don't offer that immediate benefit, but do pay off in the long-term since they reflect your value in a totally different way.
I'm not trying to dis your decisions, it's just a theory I entertain when consoling myself before calling an instructor to let her or him know that the course they've been looking forward to teaching isn't going to happen this time around. For you, for them, for me, it's a bummer.