Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Start of spring semester brings familiar trials of class registration




The day was Nov. 15, 2012. It was a cold, dark and dreary Thursday. The week had consisted of methodical dream crushing as I watched my ideal professors and classes steadily slip from my fingertips. This is class registration. I was filled with such optimism at the beginning of the week when the “enrollments” page was populated entirely by welcoming green circles signifying the openness of the class.

This optimism quickly turned to cynicism as I watched each of those circles abandon their shape and color to transform into callous blue squares, denoting a closed class, and tantalizing, but ultimately disappointing, yellow triangles signifying a wait list. As a cheery freshman, I saw registration for this semester as a grand buffet of opportunities. As I scrolled down the seemingly infinite list of possible classes, I was so excited by all of the wonderful subjects I would have the chance to take. I had a long list of classes I was dying to enroll in. As we all know, seniors go on Monday, juniors on Tuesday, sophomores on Wednesday and freshmen on Thursday. Each day I watched that list shrink as upperclassmen claimed the classes I so coveted. Now don’t get me wrong, I think seniority is the best system to go by in registration and I look forward to having my pick of the litter when I’m a senior. However, I feel like there must be some way to ameliorate the pains of the current registration system.

Thursday finally came and it was my turn to try to snatch the classes that were left on my now scanty enrollment wish list. I also forgot to mention that my last name falls in the latter half of the alphabet, so my peers who were endowed with surnames between A and M got a ten minute head start on the alphabetically challenged. I set multiple alarms to make sure that I would be awake by 7 a.m. so that I could sit poised at my computer ready to strike. Several of my friends went to the library at 6:55 a.m. to get set up on a library computer in the hope of being immune to the campus wide crash that usually occurs from all the registration traffic. I did not elect to do this so I woke up to the blaring alarm and rolled out of bed, stumbled over to my desk and quickly turned on my computer. 7 a.m. came and I watched as what was left of my class wish list was stolen away by my A-M peers. 7:10 a.m. came and I picked up the scraps. I came away with only one class that I originally wanted. I then crawled back into bed disheartened, jaded and despondent. Thankfully, this story has a happy ending.

This happy ending comes in the form of the add-drop period we are currently in. I emailed multiple teachers repeatedly with full classes to get on waitlists (I’m sure I annoyed many). I checked the enrollments page regularly in the hope of a good find.

With some considerable work during add/drop, I was able to manufacture a schedule I loved out of the diddly squat I received last semester. On the feedback page for one of my classes there was a question asking me to describe my registration experience. I believe the options were “poor, fair, good, excellent.” For me, “poor” didn’t quite capture it. Perhaps “abysmal” would do the trick.

Now I can’t even fathom how difficult it must be for the registrar’s office to coordinate 2,300 students’ schedules, but it seems like there must be some way to make this system less grueling. I know I was not the only one who left the process less than satisfied. Many of my friends struggled to get the classes they not only wanted, but needed in order to pursue ambitious academic tracks. Students have to brawl for the classes they want and that shouldn’t be the case.

It is sad that there are students who find classes that really interest them but are denied to them. I’m sure that this process gets immeasurably better each year, but this remains a terrible way to start your first four years at college. Trinity is always looking for a way to cut down the transfer rate. Perhaps make it a little easier for students to enroll in classes they will enjoy. If a student is uninterested in the content of the class, it is highly likely that his performance will suffer because of it. And it is likely that his overall college experience will be seriously hampered if he does not enjoy the subjects he is studying.

The current advising system is held up as one means of aiding students in this system, but it only works to an extent. I set up an appointment with my advisor before registration and we discussed the schedule I wanted and he gave me his recommendations and thoughts. His advice on classes was extremely helpful, but it was rendered null because neither of us had any idea which classes I would be able to eventually enroll in. Of the five classes I discussed with my advisor, I was able to enroll in one. My advisor took time to thoroughly look over my schedule and offer invaluable advice, but he doesn’t have control over the process so most of the classes we discussed filled up before I could even take a shot at them.

It may just be my lowly freshman status and my unfortunate last name, but I think this process needs overhaul and improvement. A college should be a place of boundless opportunities, idealism, and freedom. Instead we are stymied and stunted by bureaucracy. I admit freely that I cannot sympathize with the plight of the registrar’s office, but from a student’s perspective, my registration was difficult, disappointing, and a blemish on my opinion of Trinity.

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