Registration Treats Students Coarsely

Jeff Tufts

As all Colgate students know, this past week was arguably one of the most stressful weeks of the semester, surpassed only by finals week and possibly the week of the housing lottery. Between Monday, April 4 and Wednesday, April 6 the student body at Colgate registered for next semester’s classes. The result was high levels of frustration and stress for students, as they dealt with closed classes, unfulfilled major requirements, full CORE classes and lengthy waitlists.Many are irritated by the course registration process. “As an Economics major with last draw for registration, I was very frustrated because I could not get into any Economics electives,” sophomore Nell Kelleher said. “I realize the school prides itself on small classes and close contact with professors, but I find it rather difficult to believe that for my major, I cannot get into a single Economics elective course.”Kelleher thinks this is a problem with Colgate in general, not just the Economics department. “I think Political Science has had the biggest problem with [course registration], but across the board, this is a very important issue that should be faced,” Kelleher said. “There seems to be a great divide between the classes provided and the students’ demand.”There are many ways that the process could be improved.”Majors/minors [could] have a search committee look at the number of declared concentrators, the number of classes available, and see if these remotely match up. The word around campus is that they don’t,” Kelleher said.First-year Colby Seamans, a potential Biology or Psychology major with an Educational Studies minor, had a similar experience with course registration.”I hate course registration,” she said. “It’s the most stressful time of the year. I can’t get into any education courses. I got into one of the courses I want, and I’m on a lot of waitlists. [The process] forces you to take classes that you don’t want to take.”They need to make more classes available and present more options,” Seamans said. “They should also make more slots available for certain professors.”Even those who don’t have problems getting into their desired courses agree that there’s a problem with course registration. “I’m taking Mathematics and Economics courses, and even though I was second to last it wasn’t too hard,” first-year Dave Barron said. “Also, I’m taking German and that’s not very popular. I didn’t get the Economics course I wanted though. Last semester I had a problem – if you’re last to pick, it’s hard to get into CORE courses with good professors.”Sophomore Natalie Breitbach is going abroad to London next semester with the Colgate English study abroad group. Due to that circumstance, she knows what courses she’s taking because all members of the study group have to take the same courses together. Even so, she described not having to participate in course registration as “a stress reliever. It was definitely awesome.””I feel like they need to let people pre-register in classes for their major/minor,” Breitbach said. “They are starting to do that in the history department already – I think people who need the classes should have priority in registering for them.”Fortunately, students’ complaints do not appear to be falling on completely deaf ears. The SGA has started taking steps to improve the situation after hearing significant student complaints. President Ram Parimi and Vice President Casey McCormack asked sophomore head of the Academic Affairs Committee T.J. Opladen if they could look into the issues surrounding course registration.”We found that the Political Science Department is bigger than other departments. Members of my group met with [head of the Political Science Department] Professor Wagner and he gave us numerous statistics. The department has grown by 153 percent since September 11, and that it is 20 percent larger than any other department,” Opladen said.”Last semester there were 600 waitlisted marks,” he said. “That is every [Political Science] waitlist added together, so it is actually not 600 students because some students are waitlisted on more than one class, but it is still a huge number.””Professor Wagner thinks this is a problem, but the administration seems to be brushing it off,” Opladen said. “Students feel it is a major problem, though. We do not have the power to force anything to happen, but we want this looked into more.”Opladen discussed a few possible improvements that could be made.”There are numerous solutions, [such as] hiring another professor, interdisciplinary courses, or pre-registration for majors,” he said.”The SGA just wants the powers that be to look into this and correct it with whatever means they feel are necessary,” Opladen said. Until those corrections are made, students can continue to look forward to course registration as one of the most stressful and frustrating weeks of the semester.