Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Class Registration at UMD

Every semester, you receive an e-mail telling you when to register for classes. Unfortunately, this semester it’s at 8am. Even though you had set your alarm, you wake up in a panic at 8:30am. Stumbling to your computer you desperately try to get into all the classes that you planned on taking. Unfortunately, half of them are already closed.

Why does this happen to so many students here at UMD? Many people are frustrated with the system. Lydia Kepulis, a sophomore, said she had a really tough time registering for classes last year.

“It was hell!” she said.

If you’re a little confused about how the system works, here’s a little overview.

“It’s an 18-stage queue, set up by the registrar,” said Janny Walker, Assistant to the Dean in the College of Science and Engineering. “Students are divided up into groups by the number of credits they have.”

Within those ranges, the alphabet is scrambled to make it more random. Incoming freshmen get to register first and then it goes to graduate students and those who have 90-99 credits, and down from there. Not too confusing, right?

But students here are still having problems getting into the classes that they need when it comes time to register.

“This is what I think students have a really hard time with,” said Walker. “I really sympathize with students, because the answer is different for everyone. And how are they supposed to know?”

She went on to explain that once a class fills up, access to the class is, in the end, up to the professor. In CSE, the students are encouraged to go to Engineering 140 to get help. For other classes, they go to the professor, or that college’s department. So, students go to the suggested places for help to get into classes, and they get told to just show up for the first day of class.

“There’s not a uniform system. So, I guess that’s where the students think ‘What am I supposed to do?’”

Kathleen Roufs, Director of the Advisement Coordination Center had a few suggestions for students who have had, or are having problems with registering for classes.

“Be diligent about grades so you don't need to retake courses, maximize the tuition banding opportunities and take at least 15 credits a semester, be willing to take courses at inconvenient times (8:00 a.m., for example), line up lib-ed and major requirements, and get an advisor you can work with!” she said in an e-mail.

Dr. Richard Liu, the Institutional Research Expert on campus, had some information on the courses that are difficult to get into. The college that had the most problem courses was Liberal Arts. Out of the total courses offered at UMD, 34 had some difficulties. Next was the School of Business & Economy, with 27 problem courses. Swenson College of Science & Engineering and the School of Fine Arts was close behind.

The colleges that have the most students are directly related to the problem courses. CSE has the most undergrads registered for classes, with the CLA in second place. That’s why it is so tough to get into classes in those two colleges.

“I can’t really give you any facts,” said Dr. Liu. “Because I don’t have anything to back it up with.”

It’s really hard to get to the bottom of this issue. What can really make a difference, when it comes to registration, is having the right advisor. Kepulis was very happy with her advisor’s help this year, compared to last.

“My advisor did a great job with things this year. I give her credit for that,” she said.

Some advice for freshmen? Declare a major as soon as you possibly can. This will help get you on track with the classes that you need, so you won’t have to scramble to fit in your required classes towards the end of your college career.

“Last year, I hadn’t declared a major, so I had a hard time getting into classes.” Kepulis said.

So, there are a few things that you can do to make the registration process easier in the future. Make sure you talk to professors when classes you need are full. Put your name on the waitlist if it’s open. Show up to class on the first day, regardless of whether or not you got onto the waitlist. And you should be more willing to take early classes. Doing these things will help you get into the classes you need, and will help you avoid getting stuck here for an extra year.

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