EDITORIAL: Reform the class sign-up process

In order to ease the burden of course registration on students, the credit limit, advising process and SIS website must be improved

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It is up to the University to finally address the glaring issues in or course sign up process in order to ease the burden on students who suffer through it every semester. 

Emma Klein | Cavalier Daily

Since class sign-up times were posted at the start of this week, many students have started preparing to register for fall courses. This typically involves a ludicrous amount of research and planning involving several different sites that allow students to carefully balance their schedules and requirements with the rigor of their courses. While this is an incredibly stressful time of the year for students, the particulars of the University’s course registration process make it a substantial burden for students that we believe must be addressed. 

One particular aspect of the course registration process that draws ire from students is the credit limit. Currently, students in the College are limited to 15 credits when they initially register for courses and are only allowed to register for a maximum of 17 credits after everyone has had a chance to select courses. Some students registering for courses this semester may have to wait until August in order to finish assembling their class schedule. This presents a dilemma for students who have mandatory courses for their majors or general education requirements that are four credits and cause their fifth class to put them over 15 credits and thus unable to enroll in it until the incoming class signs up in the summer.

Since this system may leave students enrolled in only four courses, this puts them at a disadvantage to those who are enrolled in five and have managed to stay at or below the credit limit. Considering that there are slim pickings in some departments to begin with, having a required class designated as four credits could be a significant setback for students who are trying to complete several requirements and take classes that align with their interests. It is essential that the University lift the credit limit to 17 during the initial course registration period in order to address this issue.  

Another aspect of the course registration process that is ripe for reform is the University’s advising system. A faculty member, who is in a department related to the first year’s interests, helps them navigate the course registration process and ensures that students are finishing their requirements on time. These advisors are also responsible for meeting with and lifting students’ hold on their SIS account so they can register for classes. 

While it is important to note that the vast majority of these advisors are doing their very best to help students, the system as it stands now is incredibly flawed. Although the advising program is designed to match students with professors in a similar field, many first-years are unaware of their prospective majors, meaning their interests may change over time. Furthermore, even if the student maintains the same major interest, advisors are often in similar — but not the same — department. Therefore, many of these advisors are limited in the advice they can give to new students, who are likely already struggling to navigate this complex process.

This process improves somewhat when students finally declare their major and are assigned an advisor in that department — however, this also presents some problems. Several departments at the University are so large that students may be paired with an advisor who does not specialize in the same concentration as the student and may not be able to give them sufficient advice. For example, in the Politics department, it is entirely possible that an American politics major could be paired with a foreign affairs professor who may have a limited ability to guide the students through their particular course of study. 

Additionally, some advisors never make an effort to meet with their advisees and instead lift the students’ hold over email, which defeats the purpose of having an advisor in the first place. 

Lastly, it is essential that the University address some of the issues with Student Information System, the online platform through which students sign up for classes. The website is so poorly constructed and difficult to navigate that some have referred to it as “the land of a thousand clicks.” Given this complexity, it is common to hear horror stories of some students accidently dropping courses when they were trying to switch their discussion, only to be relegated to the back of a 100 person waiting list. The University should dedicate resources to updating SIS to make it more user-friendly. 

All of these problems indicate one important reality — that the course sign up process must be reformed. Choosing and enrolling in courses is already incredibly stressful for students and these obstacles only make the process more challenging. It is up to the University to finally address these glaring issues in order to ease the burden on students who suffer through the process every semester. 

The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board is composed of the Executive Editor, the Editor-in-Chief, the two Opinion Editors and their Senior Associate. The board can be reached at eb@cavalierdaily.com.

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