A malfunction in the LancerPoint registration system allowed students to enroll in classes without taking prerequisite courses at the beginning of the fall semester, forcing hundreds of students to be dropped from classes they never should have been allowed to take, officials said.

Associate Dean of Counseling Cynthia Olivo said that a flaw in LancerPoint caused the widespread registration problem.

“There were some glitches such that students were able to access registration to classes that they didn’t have the prerequisites for,” she said.

Senior Vice President Robert Bell echoed Olivo’s statement.

“Clearly, it was a system error and should not have occurred,” Bell said. “It was an anomaly in the system, which is not unusual for any implementation of a new computer system; these kinds of things happen. It’s unfortunate obviously, and it’s not something we want to do because it makes it that much more cumbersome for students.”

Olivo estimated that the prerequisite fluke has affected approximately 500 students. According to her, very few students have met with her in regards to the issue.

Jessica Cavallarin, psychology, lost two classes because of the malfunction.

“My issue is that LancerPoint let me add the classes and then dropped me from [them] a week later; a week after I paid for everything,” Cavallarin said. “It didn’t let me know right away that I didn’t have the proper prerequisites. I was very irritated.”

Cavallarin added that she received no notification that she was dropped from her classes.

“When I found out about the classes, I scrambled through the open classes section [and] got classes I didn’t want and really didn’t need; classes that don’t really pertain to my major,” she said. “That’s what really bugged me.”

Olivo explained LancerPoint used a program known as DegreeWorks, which is an up-and-coming module, for the fall registration cycle. DegreeWorks operates outside of the system and was intended to function similarly to Santa Rosa, LancerPoint’s predecessor, in its ability to audit transcripts and students’ current enrollment file.

“That’s the configuration we proceeded with that didn’t work perfectly,” Olivo said.

According to Bell, the school is currently working to remedy the situation. Students enrolled in unauthorized classes will be contacted through email via LancerPoint, and will be administratively withdrawn from their courses.

“Clearly, it’s a disadvantage to let a student enroll in a course [without having] met the prerequisite,” Bell said. “That’s setting the student up for failure, so we’re not going to do that.”

Additionally, teachers and students are encouraged to work together to find substitute classes for students impacted by the system error.

“We asked deans and teachers to check the students that are in [their] class and try and find alternatives for the students,” Olivo said.

Cal Liedtke, speech instructor, had to inform students they would need to drop his class if they did not have the proper prerequisites.

“For a speech course, you are expected to understand the English language well enough to present,” Liedtke said. “A lot of my students were international students who did not have the prerequisites, and I had to advise them to drop my class.”

Problems with DegreeWorks have been present since early August, but no specific educational division has been impacted more than others.

“We tried to preemptively check throughout the summer and make adjustments as needed so students had sufficient time [to change their schedules accordingly],” Olivo said.

In regards to finding classes to compensate for the now empty time slot, Bell acknowledges that this may be problematic. He encourages students to contact him and his office if classes are inaccessible, while Olivo suggests that students visit the Academic Advising in L105.

Students impacted by the prerequisite predicament who are enrolled in less than 12 units will receive a smaller amount of financial aid, Olivo said. However, “late start” courses, which will be offered at the satellite campus in Rosemead, are slated to begin in October and can restore a student’s enrollment status to full-time.

Bell said that this issue will not occur again in future semesters.

“We’re ensuring that the prerequisite component of LancerPoint is in fact in place, which it is now, but more importantly, that it is operating the way it should when we’re in the next registration cycle (in spring 2014),” he said.

Bell also added that beta testing will occur once the spring schedule is set in Lancerpoint. The system will be tested to see if it adequately regulates transcript and current enrollment files to ensure that students have taken the proper prerequisite course before allowing a student to register for a class.

“We’ll beta test to make sure it works, that’s why I’m fairly confident now that we know where the errors were this registration period for fall, that we’ll capture that for the spring,” Bell said.

“But sometimes you get anomalies; it may occur again. But, I’m very confident it will not occur again and not to the level we experienced for this current registration for fall ’13.”

Olivo emphasized that week two is the last week to add classes for the 16-week semester.

“I think it’s okay that this glitch occurred because we have the two weeks at the beginning of the term where students are making adjustments to their schedules,” she said. “I would encourage students to go to the classes and get add codes from teachers who are willing to accept them.”

Additional reporting by Christine Michaels

2 Replies to “System glitch causes prerequisite predicament”

  1. Olivo blames the students for the glitch?!? Shouldn’t a $10 million program and all the contractor-support personnel working on this at PCC have been able to prevent this ‘fluke/glitch/malfunction’ oopsie?

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