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    Palo Alto College
  Jun 15, 2024
Palo Alto College Schedule/Catalog 2015-2016 
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Palo Alto College Schedule/Catalog 2015-2016 [Archived Catalog]



Student Identification

User ID and Password

User IDs and passwords provide security access to the online Banner registration system and ACES. Once a student is admitted to the Alamo Colleges, a default PIN is assigned according to the first two letters of a student’s last name (in upper case) followed by the month, date and year of birth (XXmmddyy). Students will then be able to assign themselves a unique password.

Identification Card (Photo ID)

Students are required to have an Alamo Colleges ID. Students seeking a student photo ID must be registered with tuition paid, be enrolled in a payment plan, or have no tuition balance. Students must provide a valid photo ID to receive a college student photo ID. All students must present a student identification card for access to such services and activities as library usage, physical education facilities, special events, academic advisement, transcript requests, etc.

Name Changes/Correction

Students may change their legal name on their permanent academic record by presenting appropriate documentation to the Enrollment Services/Admissions and Records office. To request a name change, submit a completed form and the signed court order, marriage license, or divorce decree showing the new legal name. Correction of the legal name requires an official birth certificate and/or United States issued passport.

Web Registration

Students who have completed all admission requirements will register for classes via ACES at Details for the various registration periods are published in the Schedule of Classes, which is available on the individual Alamo Colleges’ websites. Students should follow the instructions for registration provided in the Schedule. For additional assistance, contact appropriate counseling/advising services.

Student Development Course (SDEV)

The Alamo Colleges requires all students to complete a student development course designed to help them successfully transition to college and better understand the Alamo Colleges’ expectations. Student Development (SDEV) and Learning Development (EDUC 1300) courses offer techniques in life-long learning, creative and critical thinking, time management, test and note taking, studying, career planning, and building lasting relationships. Students who successfully complete SDEV/EDUC 1300 courses have a proven record of higher retention and persistence in college. A variety of SDEV/EDUC 1300 courses are offered to fit specific student needs.

Entering students with fewer than fifteen (15) college semester credit hours are required to successfully complete a Student Development or Learning Framework course during the first (1) semester of enrollment with a C or better. Dual Credit, early academies, military credit, and credit by examination hours are not counted as college credit hours for this purpose. Exceptions or waivers require approval.

Students who do not successfully complete the Student Development or Learning Framework course during the first (1) semester will be required to complete the course the following semester. Three-peat tuition for EDUC 1300 will apply on a third (3) enrollment.

Course Numbering System

Courses in this catalog are identified by subject prefixes and numbers that have been assigned in accordance with the Texas Common Course Numbering System (TCCNS) as listed in the Lower-Division Academic Course Guide Manual (ACGM) and the Workforce Education Course Manual (WECM) for Technical and Continuing Education courses.

Public colleges and universities in Texas use either the TCCNS or crosswalk courses to the TCCNS. Additionally, all Texas public institutions of higher education that offer Workforce Education programs or Continuing Education courses utilize WECM course numbers. These common course numbering systems allow students to compare courses between colleges and provide them with greater ease of course credit transfer. Each course number contains four (4) digits.

For example, ENGL 1301 is:

1 - Level (Freshman in this case)

  • 0 - Developmental
  • 1 - Freshman
  • 2 - Sophomore

3 - Semester credit hours (three in this case)

01 - Sequence Number (Part One in this case)

It is important for students who plan to transfer to another college or university to ensure that courses taken at the Alamo Colleges are transferable and apply to their degree program at the transfer institution.

Though developmental-level (“0”) courses may be required prior to taking college-level courses, they do not fulfill requirements for any degrees and may not be transferable to a senior university.

A small number of academic courses contain a “7” in the third digit of the course number indicating that they do not comply with the TCCNS and may not be transferable to another college or university. Students should consult with the receiving institution to ensure transferability prior to enrolling.

In general, Arts and Sciences courses with a first number of one (1) or two (2) are accepted by senior institutions as fully transferable. Courses beginning with a zero (0) (e.g. English 0301) generally are not accepted for transfer by four-year colleges or universities. For the Alamo Colleges, these freely transferable courses are identified in the THECB publication Lower Division Academic Course Guide Manual. Specifically excluded are courses designated as vocational/technical, ESL/ESOL/ESLA, developmental or remedial, and courses listed as Basic Skills (occupational and technical courses).

Senior institutions usually will accept a maximum of sixty (60) to sixty-six (66) lower-division general education and specific subject matter courses. However, what will be accepted and how it will transfer is determined by the senior college or university.

For comprehensive information on curriculum guidelines see the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC).

Prerequisite and Co-Requisite Courses

A number of courses have prerequisites. The prerequisite may be a score on a placement test or successful completion of a lower-level course. Before registering for courses with prerequisites, students must show proof that they have fulfilled the requirement or are in the process of fulfilling the requirement. Questions regarding prerequisites should be directed to the appropriate academic department chair.

Registration for a subsequent semester may begin while a student is enrolled in a prerequisite course; students may be permitted to register for the course with the prerequisite pending a successful grade in the prerequisite course. A student who does not earn a successful grade in the prerequisite course will be dropped from the course with the prerequisite prior to the start of the following semester.

When a student registers for a course indicating a co-requisite course is required, all courses listed must be attempted simultaneously.

Course Load

Students may not enroll in more than the maximum semester credit hours allowed by the Alamo Colleges for any given semester. According to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), students should not enroll for more semester credit hours than the number of weeks in a semester/session. Students simultaneously enrolled in terms of different lengths may enroll in a maximum number of semester credit hours equal to the number of weeks in the longest term. NOTE: The definition of full- and half-time status for financial aid purposes may be different than the hours indicated below.

Understanding Parts of Semester and Enrollment Maximum Hours

Fall/Spring Semesters

  • 16 Week Sessions - Maximum Hours: Eighteen (18) semester credit hours

Flex I and Flex II

  • 8 Week Sessions - Maximum Hours Per 8-Week Session: Eight (8) semester credit hours

Fall/Spring Start Two

  • 14 Week Sessions - Maximum Hours: Fourteen (14) semester credit hours

Fall and Spring, Flex I and II, and Start Two semester credit hours count toward the Fall and Spring totals.

Summer Semester

  • Maymester 3 Week Session - Maximum Hours: Three (3) semester credit hours
  • Summer I 5 Week Session - Maximum Hours: Six (6) semester credit hours
  • Summer II 5 Week Session - Maximum Hours: Six (6) semester credit hours
  • Summer 8-Week Session - Maximum Hours: Eight (8) semester credit hours

Not to exceed 17 semester credit hours for the entire Maymester and Summer session combined.

Petition for Overload

Students may petition the appropriate administrator or designee for additional hours.

Students enrolled in special block programs (e.g., English as a Second Language, Fire Academy, etc.) that require enrollment in semester credit hours beyond the maximum normally allowed, may be exempt from these limitations.

Enrollment Status

Fall/Spring Semesters

Full-Time Student - Twelve (12) or more semester credit hours
Half-Time Student - Six to eleven (6-11) semester credit hours

Summer Semester

Full-Time Student - Six (6) semester credit hours
Half-Time Student - Three to five (3-5) semester credit hours

Note: The above enrollment status is based on a semester, not sessions within the semester. For Financial Aid or Veteran Affairs enrollment status, please check with designated department.

Concurrent Enrollment at the Alamo Colleges

  • Students enrolling concurrently at more than one of the Alamo Colleges will be assessed tuition for all courses combined across the Alamo Colleges. (See Tuition.)
  • A student’s combined enrollment at all institutions, during any semester, may not exceed the maximum hours allowed by the Alamo Colleges for any given semester, i.e., eighteen (18) maximum hours for Fall or Spring; seventeen (17) hours maximum for Maymester and Summer combined.

Alternative Learning Options / Distance Education

The Alamo Colleges are committed to providing students an easy access, flexible, and continuous registration/enrollment process. Alternative learning options meet the needs of students whose busy lives make scheduling college courses difficult. The various course delivery methods may be more appropriate for various learning styles. Students are encouraged to explore the requirements for each option to determine which offers the better opportunity for success. Students may be required to attend an on-site orientation, watch televised broadcasts or DVDs, attend on-campus review sessions, and take exams on-campus. Additional information may be requested from counseling/advising services. See your colleges’ respective Class Schedule in the navigation bar on the left for semester offerings and any required orientation sessions.

Online classes do not differ in course requirements and rigor from traditional classroom format.

Open-Entry/Open-Exit (OE/OE) Learning Centers provide computer workstations in an unstructured classroom setting. 

Online Internet Courses allow students to learn anytime, anywhere using the district-wide course delivery system.

Video Courses are broadcast on specified channels and allow students to independently complete all or most coursework off-campus. If broadcast times are not convenient, students may record lessons and view them at their convenience. Video Course lessons are also available on DVD in the Alamo Colleges’ libraries for check-out and for purchase in campus bookstores.

Interactive Video Conferencing Courses utilize real time audio and video between instructor and student and are broadcast on television or are available on DVD. Students complete most course assignments independently.

Blended/Hybrid Courses combine traditional classroom coursework such as lectures, class discussions, group work, and on-campus activities with online coursework. Blended Courses are recommended for students with flexible schedules.

Developmental Education Requirement

Students who place below the basic skill levels required for the certificate or degree selected should enroll in at least one developmental education requirement each semester until all level requirements are met.

Census Date

The Official Census Date of each semester or session established by the THECB is the Alamo Colleges’ official certified enrollment date. No grade is recorded or maintained for courses dropped through to the Official Census Date. For a complete list of Census Dates see the THECB’s Glossary of Terms online. Courses dropped prior to census will not incur Three-peat Enrollment, Six Course Drop, or 27 hour Developmental Education penalties below. For more information about penalties check with your college Enrollment Services/Admissions and Records office as well as the Student Financial Services office.

Classification of Students

Freshman: Must have completed less than thirty (30) semester credit hours in college-level courses at the Alamo Colleges or other regionally accredited college(s).

Sophomore: Must have completed not less than thirty (30) and not more than seventy-two (72) semester credit hours in college-level subjects at the Alamo Colleges or other regionally accredited college(s).

Unclassified: Must have completed more than seventy-two (72) semester credit hours with no associate or baccalaureate degree earned.

Undergraduate: Less than a baccalaureate.

Adds, Drops, and Withdrawals

Students should carefully consider all options before registering and changing their schedules. The registration period ends approximately a week before the first day of the term. A schedule change period is provided each semester the first two days of the term or part of term. From the beginning of classes through the Census Date, changes made in courses will be recorded/posted as “Dropped before Census” and will not appear on the official transcript. Students withdrawing after the Census Date will receive a grade of “W” during the withdrawal period. Official “W” recording dates are listed in the Academic Calendar .

It is very important to consider that:

  • All class schedule adjustments must be recorded and officially processed by the Enrollment Services/Admissions and Records Office and may require approval from department chairs or designees.
  • Withdrawing from a class after the Census Date may affect a student’s ability to re-enroll in the course without an increase in the tuition charged for the course and/or may count toward the maximum drop/withdrawals allowed by a Texas ruling. See Drops and Withdrawals below.
  • Adding or dropping classes, or withdrawing from all classes, can impact financial aid eligibility. Students should review the financial aid policies on withdrawing from classes. Students who receive financial aid should understand that simply notifying Student Financial Services offices of enrollment changes is not official notification to the Alamo Colleges.
  • No drops or withdrawals will be accepted by phone or over the Internet.

Drop/Add Forms may be picked up in the Enrollment Services/Admissions and Records Office or the appropriate department.


Students may add courses through ACES online or on-campus during dates designated for schedule changes, which are identified in current Schedules of Classes. Once the semester/session begins, students may not add a class once that class has met.

Drops and Withdrawals

Faculty Initiated Drops

Faculty may process drops for non-attendance when it results in a lack of progress. (See Attendance .) The course syllabus should include any established attendance policy and students should discuss absences or issues relating to attendance with each instructor.

Students are expected to be actively engaged in learning during enrollment at the Alamo Colleges, attending class on the first day and throughout the semester. Board Policy F.6.1.5 Student Success: Comprehensive Monitoring/Advising System requires that students who do not attend class at least once during the scheduled sessions of the first week of class will be dropped. For online classes, students who do not sign on to class at least once during the first week will be dropped.

Student Initiated Drops

Students may drop from a class only after meeting with a faculty member or other designee. A Notice of Change/Add/Drop Form may be submitted to the Enrollment Services/Admissions and Records Office for processing.  Students are responsible for following up and confirming that requests to withdraw from classes have been processed.

Three-Peat (Third-Attempt) Enrollment Ruling

The Alamo Colleges will charge a higher tuition rate to students registering the third (3) or subsequent time for a course. The State will no longer subsidize a student’s enrollment for the third (3) or subsequent attempt. Students should meet with an advisor to determine if they are repeating a course for the third (3) time.

Students may appeal payments of higher tuition for any courses repeated in the final semester if the course(s) are taken for the purpose of receiving a grade that will satisfy a degree requirement or if payment of higher tuition results in an economic hardship for the student.  This exemption applies for only one (1) semester. This exemption does not affect an institution’s ability to charge a higher tuition rate for courses that cannot be reported for funding for other reasons such as the excess credit hour limit, or an institution’s ability to waive higher tuition rates for economic hardship.

Developmental Education Enrollment Ruling (27-Hour Rule)

Effective Fall Semester 2012, the Alamo Colleges will charge a higher tuition rate to students registering for developmental education courses who have accumulated at least 27 hours of credit in developmental education courses. Developmental education courses include all courses that begin with a zero (0).

Students may appeal payments of higher tuition for any courses if payment of higher tuition results in an economic hardship for the student. This exemption applies for only one (1) semester. This exemption does not affect an institution’s ability to charge a higher tuition rate for courses that cannot be reported for funding for other reasons such as the excess credit hour limit, or an institution’s ability to waive higher tuition rates for economic hardship.

Six Course Drop Ruling

Effective Fall 2007, students are limited to a total of six (6) course drops during their undergraduate career, including a course(s) dropped at another institution as defined in Section 51.907 of the Texas Education Code, which limits the number of courses that may be dropped under certain circumstances. A dropped course is defined as a course in which an undergraduate student at an institution of higher education has enrolled for credit but did not complete under these conditions:

  • the student was able to drop without receiving a grade or incurring an academic penalty;
  • the student’s transcript indicates or will indicate that the student was enrolled in the course past the deadline to add and drop prior to the census date; and
  • the student is not dropping the course in order to withdraw from the institution.

Students must visit the Enrollment Services/Admissions and Records Office to apply for a Six Drop Waiver.

Exceptions to the course drop limit include a total withdrawal from the institution and an approved waiver drop. Guidelines for requesting an exception may be located through the Alamo Colleges’ homepage online at

Students should carefully consider the number of courses to take and the time commitment required to be successful. Students with a cumulative total of six (6) drops will be awarded the grade earned at the end of the semester.

Official Withdrawals

A total withdrawal from the Alamo Colleges is not counted in the above statute. If a student drops one or more courses during the semester before withdrawing completely, the student’s individual drops will be counted in the complete withdrawal. Students may withdraw only after meeting with a faculty member or other designee.

To officially withdraw from the Alamo Colleges students must:

  • Resolve all financial obligations to the Alamo Colleges including library clearance.
  • Submit withdrawal forms to the Enrollment Services/Admissions and Records office.

Withdrawal for Military Service

Military students may want their transcripts to reflect that they withdrew due to military reasons or may request that their transcripts show no indication that they were enrolled, and the course(s) will be permanently removed from their transcript. If a student withdraws as a result of military obligations, the Alamo Colleges, at the student’s option and with proper documentation, shall:

  • Grant a student who is eligible under the Alamo Colleges’ guidelines a grade in all courses by designating “Withdrawn-Military” (WM) on the transcript, OR
  • As determined by the instructor, assign an appropriate final grade or credit to a student who has satisfactorily completed a substantial amount of coursework and demonstrated sufficient mastery of the course material.

Refunds for Students Called into Active Duty

Reservists or members of the National Guard called into duty after the start of a semester as a result of U.S. military demands have three (3) options concerning tuition and fees paid to attend a public college or university in Texas. According to state statutes and Coordinating Board rules, students can choose to have the college or university:

  • Refund the tuition and fees paid for the semester;
  • Grant (if eligible under the institution’s guidelines) an incomplete grade in all courses by designating “withdrawn-military” on  the transcript; or
  • As determined by the instructor, assign an appropriate final grade or credit if the student has satisfactorily completed a substantial amount of coursework and demonstrated sufficient mastery of the material.

Please note: There are no provisions for refunds for active duty service members who are deployed as a result of military orders or for individuals who chose to enter into the service. The provisions listed above apply only to individuals called into active military service.

Recording Withdrawal Grades

Regular withdrawals are recorded as a “WS” (withdrawn); “W” prior to Fall 2007. Waiver drops are recorded as a “WX” (withdrawn with exception). Military Service withdrawals are recorded as a “WM.” All “WS” and “W” grades have no effect on the GPA, but do negatively impact Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) for financial aid eligibility. To simply stop attending a class may result in a grade of “F.”

Courses dropped do not become official until the drops have been processed.

Reinstatement to Class

A student dropped for excessive absences resulting in lack of progress may be reinstated to class at the discretion of the instructor of record only if circumstances justify reinstatement. The appropriate reinstatement form must be signed by the faculty member and department chair or designee and submitted to the Enrollment Services/Admissions and Records Office.