Photo by Alex Zamora.
Photo by Alex Zamora.

Most college students change their major at least once in their undergraduate years. Yoali Lamarque has changed hers twice in the two years since she came to UC Santa Cruz, but not for the reasons you might think.

One of the reasons she chose to attend UCSC was the community studies program.

“It just seemed like such a perfect fit for being a social worker,” Lamarque said. “But then, as I was telling people it was my major, it got cut.”

So she changed it to sociology.

However, as the budget got smaller so did the course catalogue, and Lamarque found herself struggling to get into even the introductory classes required to declare her major.

“Every quarter I would crash all the ones that were offered. … I’d spend like a week and a half in those classes hoping that someone would drop, and even bought the books, sometimes the reader,” she said. “For a year and now two quarters, I have not been able to get into a single sociology class.”

After being turned away from yet another packed intro class fall quarter, Lamarque faced a tough decision. So she began researching schools that she might transfer to.

“Economically it would’ve been easier and better to go to a community college … but I thought it would be important to have a degree from a four-year, a UC,” Lamarque said. “But now, getting here and finding that it’s not really worth $30,000 is disillusioning.”

Lamarque is now seriously considering transferring to another school, though the prospects look grim.

Budget cuts have affected community college transfer agreements, leaving private universities as a more reasonable alternative. But she relies heavily on federal aid and university scholarships, which makes private colleges a less viable option.

“Tuition is now almost the same as [at] a private school, so I thought ‘Well, classes are smaller, most kids I know at private schools aren’t having issues with getting into classes,” she said. “UCSC is still less expensive, but I feel like I’m paying more than I should for much, much less than I should be getting.”

For now, Lamarque has worked out a temporary plan, though it’s far less than ideal. She has decided to major in Latin American and Latino studies and minor in sociology.

“Hopefully I can take those [classes] online at my community college back home,” she said. “But that’s what frustrates me. I’m not paying this much to only have the summer to take them at a different school.”