Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Course registration is unnecessarily difficult

It’s not just a ‘freshman issue’

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Course registration is unnecessarily difficult

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

(Collegian file photo)

By Rithika Senthilkumar, Collegian Columnist

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As the time for Spring 2019 course enrollment approaches, along comes unnecessary stress, extensive planning and bitter disappointment. I have heard many of my peers complain about course registration over the past few days. Many of them were disappointed at being unable to take all of the classes that they wanted and were frustrated at the many closed and waitlisted classes. Until I talked to a peer mentor, who was an upperclassman, I had simply written these issues off to freshmen appropriately being the lowest priority when it came to course registration. I was disappointed to hear, however, that this “freshman experience” never quite gets easier. Many upperclassmen still have difficulty enrolling in the classes they want. Course registration affects upperclassmen as well and is not necessarily just a “freshman issue.”  The issues associated with course registration are responsible for creating the kind of cut-throat enrollment situation we find ourselves in. Understanding the problems associated with the course registration process is key in addressing and resolving it.

There are many courses that have a limited variety of sections and class times. This lack of variety greatly limits the options for students who wish to take a certain course. Students sometimes find themselves wanting to take two courses that have conflicting times and are forced to compromise and choose one. Most classes with only one section are usually offered during the busiest days and times, making it even more difficult for students to enroll in the classes they want.

The limited variety of sections, along with limited class size, severely affects students in competitive majors. As students in these majors move on to upper-level courses, there simply aren’t enough seats for everyone. Students are sometimes forced to delay taking a major-required course until their last semester of college because they are unable to enroll any earlier. Students are also forced to compete for popular elective courses offered in their department and some, unfortunately, have to settle for a course they are not interested in just to fulfill a requirement. If this is the plight for students who are in these majors, then the situation for students who are minors is even worse. Minors are given less priority than majors and therefore, are greatly disadvantaged when it comes to enrolling in the courses they want. In addition, the intense competition discourages and prevents freshmen and sophomores from challenging themselves and taking upper-level courses. They are forced to compete with upperclassmen for enrollment in higher-level courses, which does not usually wind up working in their favor.

Another issue concerning course registration involves the release of course catalogs. Although it is a relatively small issue compared to the others that were previously discussed, the release of course catalogs only a few weeks before the registration date does not allow students to plan their academic schedule in advance. It is difficult to plan for the upcoming semester without any knowledge of the courses that will be offered the semester after that. Most departments provide tentative course sequences for their majors, but it is difficult to plan based on these sequences when there is no guarantee that a certain course will be offered in the future. I, personally, have tried to plan my schedule in advance and was disappointed to find that some of the core courses will not be offered in my preferred semester. I understand that it is difficult to present an exact course catalog in advance; however, at the very least, the core courses that will be offered should be provided earlier.

The amalgamation of all the issues associated with course enrollment results in unnecessary stress for many students. It is also disappointing for students to note that despite paying loads of money for tuition and fees, they are unable to take the classes that they are interested in.

In order to resolve the issues associated with course registration, one needs to address the root of the problem, and most of the issues discussed above are resultant from a scarcity of teaching professors. The current system needs to be reevaluated and a different system, in which the difficulties student face are minimized, must be devised. I understand that this is a slow process and would take a considerable amount of time; however, it is better to get started now than not at all.

Rithika Senthilkumar is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]

3 Comments

3 Responses to “Course registration is unnecessarily difficult”

  1. Amy on November 15th, 2018 10:13 am

    It’s actually simple and there are countless alternatives if you can’t fulfill a class you don’t want and apparently 99 percent of student population doesn’t have a problem because they graduate on time. If you can’t do course registration maybe you should go to community college or not go to college at all?

    These sort of articles are a disgrace and really they make students at this campus look dumb. They always try to tie some minor issue which actually reflects the inability of the person/people complaining about it into something about a ‘system’. If anything what the author of this column is doing is encouraging maladaptation(by rewarding) dysfunctional students who have difficulty with basic things and presumably life skills.

  2. Tasty Tomato on November 15th, 2018 7:51 pm

    This article is BS. Once you’re a junior or senior getting into classes is super easy especially if its a major course.

  3. Elizabeth on November 16th, 2018 2:47 pm

    Totally agree with Amy. Is course registration stressful? Yes, but that’s life! Just because you want to be in a class doesn’t mean you’ll get it, but once again – that’s a great life lesson – you can’t always get what you want. By having an Add/Drop period UMass allows for students to make any necessary adjustments to their schedule. The University does NOT need to bend over backwards for students who can’t figure out how to register for a class. Also, UMass usually doesn’t want freshman or sophomores taking upper-level or grad-level courses for good reason. Many upper-level courses rely on information that would only be learned in a previous course. This isn’t a UMass issue just because registration stresses you – it’s actually easier at UMass than at many other schools. All these students complain about everything the school does wrong or isn’t doing for them and never once take into consideration that 1) there might be reasons the school does things certain way and 2) that these “issues” are WAY worse at most other schools. Get over yourselves, seriously.

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