Opinion: Registration Ridiculousness Revisited

Benjamin Franklin once said “Time is money,” and I am pretty sure he had the BC course registration process in mind at the time. Maybe he was more focused on the idea of daylight savings or the creation of a republic, but this quote could not apply more to the ridiculous process of pick-times at Boston College.

Freshman year, my advisor glanced at my degree audit and showed me my pick-time: second day in the afternoon. He looked up, smiled, and simply said, “Well, you’ll be a Junior one day.” As I climb up the pick-time ladder in my BC career, I realize that his statement proves false for many students, even as they enter their last semester. I was at the bottom of the registration pool as a freshman and, having one of the last pick-times, I had to prepare for the reality that classes I wanted to take the next semester wouldn’t be available. Most of us assume that by senior year this shouldn’t be the problem. We have been waiting two years to get into Sports Economics, and three to get Professor McDargh’s Capstone class, only to experience being completely locked out of high demand classes by 9 am on registration day.

The fundamental issue is the class registration process. Boston College’s registration process is inherently defective, specifically in its approach to senior pick-times. As I researched other universities and their registration process, it seems like BC’s system is fairly anomalous. The University of Miami, Dartmouth College, Duke University and the College of the Holy Cross all have a similar registration process: two weeks prior to registration, students go online and choose the specific classes they would like to take for the upcoming semester by adding them to their “shopping-cart”, in the case of UM, or “book bag” at Duke. Each class has a priority list, in most cases established by seniority and some by major. At the end of the registration period, students are notified of entrance into each class and are able to add new courses if their course preferences have changed. The most unique characteristic of almost every university was the absence of divided pick-times in the senior class. Through the BC process, seniors still have randomized pick-times, which can decide the fate of courses each student will be able to enter. The process should allow for all seniors to pick classes at the same time. By the final semesters at the university, seniors should each have an equal chance at completing both necessary and interesting courses afforded by the school. The possibility still remains that each senior will not receive his or her dream schedule, but the equal opportunity to do so should be a priority.

The second drawback in the registration process is the system in place to register for classes: BC UIS. The system itself is undeniably outdated and even more complicated to use. Students have to write down endless course codes to several class, even back up ones. A process such as the “shopping-cart” used by other universities would just be simpler. Changing the operating system would afford simplicity to a semiannual process most students approach with stress. The most recent issue has occurred with the newest operation system for the Mac computers, OS Maverick. The update for Apple computers has now become too advanced to use the UIS class registration system. Many students have been told to use the university’s library computers, but I can only assume those computers will be update at some point in the future. The point is, BC’s registration process is already outdated and is proving to be obsolete as technology advances. The school is going to have to find a way to develop a compatible system, while hopefully simplifying the registration process for the sake of the students.

 Screenshot via UIS.
Photo courtesy of Gavel Media.

The third flaw in the BC system is class availability: many classes offer only one section per semester, regardless of demand. This issue is maybe more complex because it is dependent on professors' schedules. Nevertheless, the class availability at Boston College presents a double-edged sword, especially while fulfilling major requirements. Students are expected to make the most of each semester, but encounter a limited amount of quality classes.  Some majors, like Communications, require students to take level-one courses before fulfilling any higher-level classes. The result of the system is many students sophomore and junior year simply cannot access classes they need to take. Without more sections available, a Comm student can go an entire semester without taking a mandatory course, forcing them to play “catch-up” the following years. Disregarding major requirements, only offering one class section per semester decreases its availability. Many popular classes at BC are notoriously offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the 1:30 PM time slot. If the schedules allowed for even one more class section throughout the week, the availability of classes would change completely. By adding more sections of each class we could reduce class sizes and even further reduce the stress students feel while planning next semester’s schedule. Maybe a junior can finally enter Sports Economics, or a senior will not have to worry as much about getting into an interesting Sociology class at the last minute.

I understand finding efficient means to register over 9,000 students’ at universities is a difficult task, but the process towards improvement should no longer be stagnant. Seniors should be a priority, class sections should increase and the process should be simplified. Because our time here is money, and all of us would love to make the most of it.         

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