It used to be that the academic waiting list, in which students are told that they might be able to attend a college they applied to if enough people who were actually admitted decide not to go, was confined to America’s relatively selective schools. Apparently not anymore. Adam Lisberg and Meredith Kolodner of the New York Daily News report that:

For the first time in its history, the City University of New York will place students on waiting lists because colleges have run out of space and money.

Any student who applies to the system’s four-year or community colleges after Friday will be put on a waiting list and given priority for enrollment in January, officials said.

Enrollment is now at a record 260,000 and is expected to rise to 265,000 in the fall, a 30% jump in the past decade. The cap was imposed after CUNY received as many applications by April for the fall semester as it had by September of last year.

CUNY, which consists of 11 senior colleges, six community colleges, and six graduate-level schools, was traditionally the easy access point that many had to higher education. Until recently the whole institution was both open admission and tuition free.

Well no more: increased applications and decreased funding, like at many other institutions across the country, mean the CUNY system has reached capacity and will now be wait listing people who apply after a certain point.

This makes some people very unhappy. According to the article “Anyone who wants to come to the college should have the opportunity,” said Sharon Persinger, a Bronx Community College professor.”It’s really what our mission is.”

While this is actually not true—the mission of Bronx Community College appears to be merely “to provide a strong academic foundation for students of diverse backgrounds, preparations, and aspirations in order to further their success in their chosen vocations, their further education, and their community involvement”—Persinger has a point. In this case realistically if someone doesn’t get off the wait list at CUNY, he’s just not going to college. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer