Full-year registration adds ‘extra stress and a burden’

Sara Topliff, Reporter

Even though full-year registration allows students to register for fall 2023, spring 2024 and summer 2024 at the same time, as well as gives students the ability to plan ahead and secure classes, I think we need to consider the perspective of how this limits flexibility.   

Associate Vice President of Academic Services and Registrar Maria Kohnke said that full-year registration gives the student the power of making decisions and that this new process “is really student-focused. “

“It’s to allow students the opportunity to register for the whole year to better plan so that students have a better ability to plan ahead, get the classes they need so that they can register at the time scheduled that they’re intended to graduate,” Kohnke said.

In my opinion, full-year registration is helpful for some students, mainly graduating seniors, who know exactly what classes they need to take. However, for students who are still figuring out what their timeline will look like, it is extra stress and a burden. Not everyone is at the point in their education where they are ready to plan ahead that far in advance. 

Sophomore Emma Goldberg, now an exercise science major, said that she switched her major three times throughout her first two years of college.

“I worry that lower classmen won’t be able to change their mind and switch their majors if the classes they need for a new major are full for the whole academic year,” Goldberg said.

Professor and Chair of the Communication Department Jean Sandlin said that after students take their required general education courses,  sometimes they may want to change their path to pursue a future in a different field after finding some of those classes interesting. 

“The real challenge is that we want the students to be able to pursue coursework that will prepare them for their career choices, and people change their mind…If you’re feeling locked in, it can maybe dissuade some students from making that jump into their passion,” Sandlin said.

Sandlin said she wants students to feel confident in their ability to change their classes and thinks students need the flexibility to make any changes. 

“Your education career, just like your job career, is not a straight line. It is a wiggly squiggly path,” Sandlin said.

I agree with Sandlin and feel that without as much flexibility in terms of class selection, students may feel trapped. When registering for an entire academic year, classes in both the fall and spring are going to fill up as they do in regular semester registration. If students want to change classes within the year, it might be difficult or even impossible to switch. 

Even if students know what classes they’ll need for the next year, it is still a struggle to plan that far in advance and manage course planning. Many students have jobs and other extracurriculars that they need to plan around. It’s hard to know what your schedule is going to look like in advance. I don’t think it’s going to be easy to make a class schedule that you can change as needed. 

“Having to register for both semesters at the same time and then having to worry about those classes filling up, and if they do, finding replacements and backup options is going to be hard to manage. It’s definitely something that worries me going into registration for April,” Goldberg said. 

Another issue for students is the lack of course options and conflicting class times. There are a lot of required classes being offered at the same time and the elective classes clash with those times also. If a class is required for a student to graduate, there should be multiple sections offered throughout the fall and spring semesters. 

“Throughout my planning process, I’ve run into issues where most of the classes I need are being offered at the same time and there aren’t other sections being offered,” Goldberg said. 

While full-year registration is set for students and for their benefit, students aren’t the only ones facing challenges regarding planning for the entire academic year. I think the department chairs’ and faculty’s hardships should be seen too. Our professors have a lot to manage as well and planning for full-year registration has added to their stress. 

“I understand the reason that they’re giving students this opportunity, but I feel like it’s putting a lot of pressure on making decisions that actually don’t need to be made yet. Let’s do one step at a time,” Sandlin said. 

Having to schedule course offerings and class times quite far in advance isn’t easy. 

“On the con side from the faculty side, a year in advance is a long time, and so sometimes when you’re dealing with adjunct faculty, there can be some changes in terms of who is teaching the class that far in advance. That could drive some changes for spring and summer,” Kohnke said. 

Registration is going to be an overwhelming time no matter what. The new full-year registration process does benefit a select group of students, but the challenges some may face with it should be considered too. 

“I appreciate where they’re coming from…I just have some reservations about if it’s the best alternative for everybody,” Sandlin said.