Registration woes: ‘The whole semester you hear your friends complaining.’

(Illustration by Katrina Pietz)

By Emily Majewski

For Elizabeth Hogan ’21, the morning of spring course registration in November was every student’s nightmare. Weeks prior to registration Hogan was conscientious, making sure to meet with her advisor, look through the course catalog on KnightVision, and make a backup plan of classes. But, when she woke up early on her assigned day, she realized that her advisor had not given her online clearance to register.

“I was so stressed out and anxious,” said Hogan looking back. Ultimately she was able to join the classes she was originally vying for, but not everyone fares so well.
Eric Hou ’19 said he has witnessed too many friends’ frustrations because they are not prepared for registration. “They will end up going to a class they don’t really want to go to, but they have to, so the whole semester you hear your friends complaining,” he said.

Upperclassmen often have established a plan to get the best results from a process perceived to be heavily weighed against students. Elena Lloyd ’19 suggests “the sticky note plan,” which is a tactic used by education majors and their advisers to prepare for the registration process.

Even after changing her major, she chose to keep up with mapping required classes with sticky notes semester by semester. “Right before registering I would go through and make a list of what classes would fit under the requirement and then when it came time to actually do it I’d just take whatever was the best one that was still open,” Lloyd said.

Interestingly enough, one of Lloyd’s favorite classes over her four years on campus was her science requirement. Science has nothing to do with her English major, yet it left a lasting impression on Lloyd: what should a student do if tempted to try something completely new? “Your 128 credits you need for graduation gives you so much room to just take something wild,” said David Barrowclough, Registrar. “Don’t be afraid of the things that are out of your comfort zone because we have some really cool people in the classroom that you might not otherwise expose yourself to or topics that you might not otherwise get.”

Barrowclough is an alumnus from the class of 2002 chose a liberal arts college for the exact purpose of trying an array of new things. This concept is especially alluring to undergraduates who may be undecided yet willing to reach out beyond their comfort zone. If Barrowclough hadn’t, he may not have declared a journalism minor when journalism wasn’t quite on his radar. Hou recommends waiting to take required LSC’s until you are ready to truly absorb them. His favorite classes quickly became philosophy – “They really let you think about ‘what’s the meaning of myself?’ You start to think about things that you’d probably never think about if you didn’t take the class” he said.

Using the add or drop period to your advantage. This has been recently extended, giving students the opportunity to change their schedule right up until returning to campus in the fall. With classes marked full, be sure to check for available petition seats before assuming it is impossible.

“Our faculty is so agreeable for the most part that even if a student is closed out, they just show up and ask [the professor],” Barrowclough said. Keep in mind that although the process can be incredibly nerve-wracking, there is staff in the Registrar’s Office as well as the classroom.

“I’m not going to be naïve and think that registration is perfect and everyone always gets what they want,” Barrowclough said, “But I think students get most of what they want most of the time”. Eliminate as many possible stressors that are within your control ahead of time and be sure to remind your advisor to give you clearance to register.