Photo courtesy of Lizzie Bernard.

No one said college was easy ­— but challenges should be faced in classrooms, not while trying to get into them. Lizzie Bernard had the latter problem.

Bernard was a third-year film and digital media major from Stevenson when she decided not to return to UC Santa Cruz for this current spring quarter.

Bernard had completed all of her general education requirements when she left UCSC, but had only been able to get three classes for her major in four quarters.

She was never able to get into any upper-division classes.

“What I was paying and the quality of the education wasn’t worth it anymore,” Bernard said. “I couldn’t get the [classes needed] for my bachelor’s degree, and I felt like I was wasting my time.”

Feeling overwhelmed and unfocused with a full load of classes, coping with personal problems and aching under the strain of the economy, Bernard had gone to part-time status this past fall to ease her load.

At UCSC, enrollment time is determined by how many credits you have completed — the more, the better. Because she was taking less units, Bernard’s enrollment times only got worse, making it even more difficult to get into the classes she needed.

“Another problem I have with UCSC is I haven’t been able to explore what I want to do, because I can’t get freaking classes, because I always get shafted on my enrollment time,” she said.

Since Bernard was able to enroll in so few classes, her ability to select courses and a major best suited for her preferences was significantly hampered.

After so many quarters of full classes and overflowing wait lists, she decided to cut her losses and regroup — a decision her family fully supports.

“My mom said that she didn’t really want to give the UC system the money anymore because it is ridiculous, all the fee and tuition increases,” Bernard said. “The other reason I’m taking the time off is that I need to figure out myself. I need to figure out what I want to do.”

Bernard is a self-described “jack of all trades,” participating in campus radio station KZSC and Slugs in Fishnets, playing guitar and trumpet and delving into photography and acting. She often felt stifled at UCSC, and has been taking advantage of her new freedom of exploration.

She took a trip to New York with her new Rocky Horror cast, “Barely Legal,” and performed for the Rocky Horror Picture Show Festival as Magenta at the House of Blues in Atlantic City.

Right now Bernard is happy to explore. Despite her difficult experiences at UCSC, she said, getting a degree would be worthwhile, though she does not think it will be from UCSC.

“Everything is a big question mark, really,” Bernard said. “I’m planning on going back to school within a couple of years, maybe sooner, maybe later — I don’t know — but I’m definitely going to get a degree.”