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Blue Books and Red Tape

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We recently decided to supplement our bachelor's degree by taking a night class at Los Angeles City College. The class itself is fine, but the process of enrolling in it was a snarl of wasted time and red tape, which we can only expect will get worse if, as is the governor's plan, their funding gets cut. Given that the point of community colleges is ostensibly to make education more accessible to more people, this is a frightening state of affairs.

We filled out an admission form online and received notification by mail within a few days that we could enroll in the school. So far, so good. We then attempted to enroll in the class online, but the system would not let us do so because it had no record that we had met the prerequisite for the class. So we called the school and explained that we had taken enough math in high school to prepare us for a college-level statistics class. No dice. "If you'd taken intermediate algebra in college, that would be fine, but high school calculus wouldn't count. You have to take a placement test."

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OK, fine, can we sign up for the placement test?

"Sure, go to Room 112."

Can we sign up on the phone?

"No."

We go over to the campus — which, because our car is in the shop, involves four subway and bus rides, round trip, to travel three miles — and spend one minute signing up to take the test the next day.