Waitlisting among registration changes

University introduces numerous changes for registration starting this summer.

Beginning with the upcoming registration period for Summer 2013, students will see changes to registration, eliminating washout and allowing for undergraduate course waitlists.

The university announced last week that it will effectively end washout – formally known as registration cancellation – in an effort to alleviate financial stress for students registered for classes and allow more time for students to make minimum tuition payments. Previously, if students didn’t make the minimum payment to the university, they would be automatically dropped from any classes in which they were enrolled in for the upcoming semester.

Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and Assessment Jodi Levine Laufgraben said  after the washout date, typically 80 percent would re-register for courses and 20 percent wouldn’t. Washout played a role in finding those who had registered for the term but weren’t going to attend the university, Laufgraben said. While it was effective in finding the group of students who weren’t going to attend the university, it created a major service issue.

“It was becoming a real customer service problem in that we noticed significant activity in phone calls, emails and visit volumes to financial aid and to the Bursar’s Office around the washout date, particularly in August,” Laufgraben said. “We really looked what some ways [are] that we can approach improving financial aid and Bursar customer service. Also, make students aware that if you register for classes, you’re financially responsible.”

The end of registration cancellation essentially makes students financially responsible for all courses they register for. In an effort to clear up any confusion about students’ financial obligations when registering for courses, the university is also introducing a Financial Responsibility Agreement, which basically acts as a “terms of use.”

“This is just making students a little bit more aware that registration triggers a bill,” Laufgraben said. “We’ll be doing other things, particularly in the summer, to remind students that if you aren’t planning to attend, you need to drop your classes.”

Laufgraben said that the elimination of registration cancellation – or “the washing out of washout” – has received positive reviews.

“We feel the overwhelming response so far has been positive,” she said. “For students who’ve gone through cancellation or the stress of possible cancellation, it’s a tremendous stress at the start of the semester when we want you focused on the semester.”

Targeted emails will be sent throughout the summer to students who are registered, but don’t appear to want to attend class.

“We’re not just eliminating cancellation, we’re putting in the other tools to help students with billing problems,” Laufgraben said. “This gives students a longer time to pay.”

A more immediate change that students will notice when registering for classes will be the university’s new waitlist feature on Self-Service Banner. In previous semesters, if a class was closed, there was no way to know if any spots had opened up after the initial wave of registration passed.

Now, students registering for class will have the option to be put on a waitlist that will notify students via email if a spot opens up in the class. The spot will be saved for the waitlisted student for 72 hours. Because the waitlist doesn’t automatically add people on hold into the class, students have the option of either taking the spot, or taking themselves off the waitlist.

“Waitlisting is really like getting on the list to get a table at a restaurant,” Laufgraben said. “In the old days, you would have to go in every day, some people went in every hour, you’d have to keep checking to see if you could get in [to a closed class].”

In addition to allowing students to be placed in line for closed courses, the waitlist function gives departments a look at how popular certain courses are. This function will allow departments to open up additional sections if a course is particularly popular. Students previously had to petition the department to create additional sections in a course.

Waitlisting cannot be used for specific sections within a course.

Sean Carlin can be reached at sean.carlin@temple.edu or on Twitter @SeanCarlin84. 

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