Registration: a flawed system

Once again it’s registration time and many students are dissatisfied with their registration times. Those with late registration times will spend the next few days checking Novasis, watching as the classes they want (and in some cases need) to take fill to capacity. Under the current system, a student’s registration time is based on his/her number of credits. Presumably, this was intended to ensure that students with a higher class standing got the first choice on classes. However, this system has recently been distorted by students coming in with Advanced Placement (AP) credits, students studying abroad in the summer and students taking summer courses.

While no one will argue that someone who earns college credits prior to coming to the University deserves an advantage, how long should this privilege last? It’s enough of a reward for these students to be exempt from taking those courses in college. It is extreme to then take it a step further and say these students deserve the top registration times. Extra credits should not be an excuse to shut out the remainder of the students. Students with these extra credits are essentially “cutting the line” of the registration process, in front of those that have been waiting patiently for four years to have a decent time, in front of those who couldn’t afford to take classes over the summer, in front of those that had sub-par AP programs at their high schools. There has to be a better way to handle registration, a way that is fair to everyone.

One idea would be to handle the time assignment like a draft snake. Those who register late one semester would have earlier times the following semester. The problem with this solution is that those assigned times in the middle of the range will typically always remain in the middle. Another possibility is to factor in students’ college GPAs somehow. This way a premium would be placed on performance in college, and specifically performance within the student’s major, thus rewarding those who continue to perform well, even beyond high school. However, if a student with a poor GPA is forced to take a subject he or she is not very interested in, the motivation to learn and to improve the GPA decreases significantly. Students who are in classes they want to take, about subjects that interest them are certainly more apt to be willing to learn, attend class and perform well.

Though somewhat simple and arbitrary, a lottery system may be the fairest way to assign registration times. Assigning student’s registration times randomly according to year and college gives students the chance to have a good registration time at least once in their college careers.

The current system needs to be fixed. There is no reason to give an advantage in registration to the same students year after year.