Every year around this time laments of “It’s filled again” and “I couldn’t get in” rule on-campus discussion. Frustration is rampant and nerves are tense because students have just experienced fall class registration.
One would think students would feel relieved that registration was finally over. Well, they might if they actually had gotten into the classes they need. Undergraduates are subject to many requirements within their majors, some of which must be taken sequentially, but students are having extreme difficulties in taking the classes they are supposed to be taking.
Too few sections are offered for required courses, so classes are filled before underclassmen have the opportunity to register. Even in courses that offer multiple sections, often students outside the major for which the course is required fill seats students within the major need.
The set-up of required courses needs an efficiency overhaul. Many departments need to rethink the size and number of sections offered for required courses, because they are simply not adequate for the number of students who must take them.
“The physics class I have to take is only offered in the fall and there’s only one section. Of course I didn’t get in,” said Sarah Bricker, a freshman speech-language-hearing major shortly after registration.
Such disappointment and resignation are common themes among underclassmen who have become used to being a part of a system that keeps them out of the same classes it tells them to take.
And the more semesters a student must wait to be able to take a requirement, the less sense their sequence of classes makes. In fact, it often seems that the only people who are able to get into required classes are upperclassmen, which makes the current system ridiculous. In the English department, for instance, students are required to take a class called intro to English studies, which prepares them for upper level English courses.
But underclassmen are unable to get into the few sections of this intro course that are offered, so students who are taking the class are mostly upperclassmen. Phil Motley, a senior English major, said, “I took my last survey the same semester as I did my capstone.”
Juniors and seniors are taking intro courses well after they’ve started taking upper level classes. Introductory and survey courses that are meant to prepare students for more difficult, advanced classes are completely ineffective if they are taken after the fact.
In majors where requirements are very rigid, problems can be even worse. In the journalism major, for example, required classes must be taken in order. Journalism majors are supposed to take journalism CO55 to begin with, but because so many non-majors also take the class, it fills up quickly. If a journalism student can not get into Journalism 55, he or she can not take the next required class. Rather, they have to wait until the next semester because their classes must be taken chronologically.
Departments need to get smart and start accommodating their students. Students should not be forced to take intro-level courses as juniors and seniors. Being taught how to handle upper-level coursework after you have already taken upper-level courses is ludicrous. The departments need to start offering more sections of their required courses, especially if they’re sequential.
Also, students of other majors should not be blocking students within a major out of their required classes. Departments should establish a system where only students within a major are allowed to sign up for that major’s required classes for the first week of registration. After that, the remaining slots could be open to anyone. Students who absolutely need the course will have first dibs on the seats, but students with different majors will still have an opportunity to register.
It is only logical that if every student within a certain major must take a course, there will be more of a demand for that course. Departments should start meeting that demand. For the sake of student sanity, more sections must be offered and a more logical system must be implemented.
Emilie Haertsch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.