Registrar’s office seeks to improve pre-registration

Sam Jacobson

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For students at Whitman, registration often means navigating the tricky business of choosing between classes, attempting to gain consent from professors and in some cases coping with less than ideal registration times. With the goal of bringing order and equity to this sometimes crazy process, the Registrar’s Office is working to improve the registration process.

Registration ended this week and with it the second trial of a new system for determining pre-registration times. While the registrar implemented the new system last year to enhance students’ chances in getting the classes that they want, there are still changes in the works regarding the scheduling of classes, professors giving consent and the ways in which pre-registration times are generated.

Registrar Stacey Giusti collaborated with students to overhaul the pre-registration process last spring. The new method maintains the principle of prioritizing registration by graduation date, but it splits each class into two tiers that alternate each semester between the early half and the latter half of registration. Within this tiered system, students are guaranteed to not be given a late registration time twice in a row.

Students have demonstrated frustration with the current system for registration. Photo by Marra Clay.

Students have demonstrated frustration with the current system for registration. Photo by Marra Clay.

“You can be disadvantaged by a poor appointment time, but fortunately –– or unfortunately –– for the students, it is in no one’s hands, and that’s the fairest way we can come up with. We welcome anyone’s input on how to do things better,” said Giusti.

Senior Carly Busch added that although the system has improved, it continues to exasperate students.

“[It’s frustrating] because I know it’s an imperfect system, but more frustrating that I can’t think of a better solution,” said Busch.

In some cases students’ registration times can even have an impact on the direction of their intended major.

“I used to be really intrigued by the Politics Department at Whitman college, but due to my registration time, I have become an Econ major,” said sophomore Parker Silverman.

One solution that students often turn to as a way of working with a later registration time and quickly filling classes has been to gain the consent of the professors teaching the classes they want to take. While this technique can be a good way of ensuring that you get into the classes that you want, it is also becoming a worrying trend that both the registrar and the faculty are looking to address out of fear that it disadvantages those in the grades above them or those who need the classes for their majors.

“The Curriculum Committee is going to take up at their next meeting the whole consent issue,” said Giusti. “Because we’re now finding that [in a report by the Registrar’s Office] before we even started registration, there were 264 students given consent to get into classes before registration even began. This is not from closed classes, and while some of it is for seniors who need consent to get into senior sem and things like that, [it is] not the great majority.”

The Registrar’s Office has also sought to change the times at which classes are scheduled to meet as a way of giving students more options as to what they can take and to help create more classroom space.

“We’re trying to change the course schedule, to get rid of the stair step Monday at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Friday at 11 a.m., to make it more logical and to also add a few more time slots to it to loosen up the student’s schedules for a bit,” said Giusti. “We’re trying to spread things out, and especially in the Science Building. For rooms [the overhaul] will be very important, but [it is also] just so students don’t see so many conflicting classes.”

Sophomore Larry Schaefer claims that the problem this year isn’t so much the conflicting classes as it is the fact that he is having a hard time finding the classes that he needs to take.

“I have found registration a little frustrating, as I am trying to get into politics courses, which there are not many of, as there are a few professors from the department on sabbatical,” said Schaefer.

For those like sophomore Grace Little, registration is a time of frustration, hope and anticipation.

“I’ve just been in a place where classes are full every time, and this time I’m at 8 p.m. and I want to take Astro,” said Little.

Stacey Giusti works in the Registrar during the night of registration connecting with students as they plan classes to take for the upcoming semester. Photo by Marra Clay.

Stacey Giusti works in the Registrar during the night of registration connecting with students as they plan classes to take for the upcoming semester. Photo by Marra Clay.

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