At San Diego community colleges, you'll find students from all walks of life.
"After 35 years of marriage, I've been hung out to dry with a high school diploma. So I decided that coming back to college was the smart thing to do," Mesa College student Sara Lizio said.
But the economic crisis in Sacramento is leaving thousands of community college students high and dry.
"They only have two classes, morning and afternoon, and they're both closed. So you're going to have to be on a waiting list for I don't know how long," student Sean Plunkett said.
"I actually couldn't take some of the classes I was planning on taking, so it was horrible," student Maryam Mehrzah said.
Twice as many students are on waiting lists at the San Diego Community College District this year, as compared to last year. The district includes Mesa, City and Miramar community colleges.
Since the economic downturn began, the district has cut 300 classes and trimmed $11 million from its budget, leaving more than 7,500 students on waiting lists for classes. A spokesperson for the district says something has to give.
"There are going to be limited numbers of classes based on our funding, and those who wait until the end will not get into classes," Richard Dittbenner of the SDCCC said.
At Mesa College, many spring semester classes are already closed.
"I'm going sideways like a crab and finding other classes that will meet my objective," Lizio said.
Students say the solution is having a plan and registering for classes online as soon as they open.
"I just applied as soon as the clock turned 7 o'clock. I just got online and planned everything ahead, so it was all good this semester," Mehrzah said.
"you gotta really do your research and know what you want to study, know where you want to go and get in early," Nixon said.
If a class is full, students say the best way to get in is to be persistent. Show up on the first day of class, introduce yourself to the professor and hope somebody eventually drops out.