Registration Rant

It’s that time of year again for us lucky college students: registration! One of the most beloved times of the average college student’s semester - right? 

No?

It’s not some glorious event where you get to choose the classes you’ve been dying to take, with the professors you’ve had your upperclassmen friends constantly gush about, or even just basic classes you NEED?!

Oh right. That’s how my dream registration experience would go, not my reality.

I don’t know about y’all, but for almost every single registration session I’ve had (and that’s five times now) I’ve always been stressed out, anxious, and gutted in some form, with what the outcome ends up being. This registration however, I was all of the above times 1,000. Not only were my first choices of classes and specific sections full, but my backup choices were full, and most frustratingly - my MANDATORY, REQUIRED classes and ALL of its sections were full as well. 

I understand that the current way registration works, students with more credit hours under their belts will get earlier registration appointments once the period opens. Additionally, there are students, regardless of year, that get priority registration. These include those with special accommodations, honors students, and athletes. While there are justifiable reasons for these people to have priority registration, it also goes to show that the average college student that doesn’t fall under any of those categories is getting the short end of the stick. Though it might be unintended to come off this way, on paper it looks as if the university favors some students over others. To help improve this moving forward, I would suggest that the university eliminate priority registration, and come up with a new system that doesn’t differentiate among its students, so that everyone gets an equal chance at registering for classes they both want and need.

At this point in my college career, I have gotten acclimated to the fact that I likely will not get the classes I wanted, whether that be a specific time or professor. This means I would have two options left: either wait and put it off till a later semester where I would hopefully get a better chance at the ones I want, or sacrifice something I really wanted to take for another course that would fulfill the same core attributes. For some I do choose to wait with a foolish sense of hope - but for most, I find myself forced to choose from whatever is leftover. This dilemma, which I know affects many more students like myself, shouldn’t exist in the first place. For the amount of money that we spend to attend school, why would we pay to take classes that either don’t get us anywhere closer to achieving our degree, or simply just classes we have no interest in?

THANKFULLY, after frantically reaching out to advisors, professors, chairs, and deans via passionately-worded emails I was able to enroll in the one class I genuinely needed to take this upcoming semester. I explained how the situation of finding every single section of this class to be full by the time I registered caused me to go into a slight panic about whether I’d be able to graduate on time, as this class was part of a sequence for my major that could not be changed. This class, by its nature, is rather small to keep the class intimate and to provide key one-on-one attention between the professor and students. I will be the first to say that I truly appreciate it, as I’ve been able to create great relationships with my peers and mentors through this approach. But if an institution promises to provide this close-knit environment through its classes, then it needs to offer multiple of these smaller sections - at least enough so that all the students that need the class can secure a spot (I mean the university should know how many students they have in each major, thus informing them how many spots they need to accommodate).

A general response I’ve gathered from those higher-up is that when you register, even though a class might appear to be full, it likely isn’t and that there are still spots available - however, the system hides these vacancies so that it can allow for new registrants a chance at the class. In my experience, though, I have found this to just be more stressful than effective. I would rather know exactly what is available to me when it actually is, as opposed to having to take additional measures such as emailing what feels like the entire university just to get help into a single class.

This go-around, I found myself registering for classes that do me no favor in terms of an actual desire to learn or helping me finish my major. The reason I signed up for these “placeholder” classes, as I like to call them, is because with the few classes I managed to get that actually prove useful to me, were below the mandated amount of credits required to be considered a full-time student. If I were to drop to a part-time student, some of the financial aid I have can be taken away from me, as it only applies to full-time students. 

Yet, another thing out of my control. So, of course I will enroll in other classes just to meet the minimum number of credits needed so that I don’t lose out on anything. 

With all this being said, I know that this may seem like an exaggerated list of complaints (to be fair, it basically is) while there are many other, BIGGER problems to concern ourselves with. But with the uncertainty of our world’s current situation, not even knowing if students will return to campus in the fall, it would be nice not to have to deal with these kinds of issues over something that should be a more calm, and ordinary process, like registration. Because I’m not an athlete or honors student, or didn’t come in with lots of AP credits from high school, why should I be given a later registration appointment? I worked just as hard to apply and get accepted here, and I pay the same amount of money to have the privilege of attending such a prestigious university. I would really just love to see a bit more effort from the administrative side to improve the current, dreaded registration experience, that I know from personal conversations many students go through.

*All opinions noted in this article belong to & are unique to the author