Despite student hatred, registration really isn't that bad

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Photo Credit: Screenshot from registrar.utexas.edu

This morning began UT’s most dramatic ritual: registration. From now through the 29th, thousands of blurry-eyed student will anxiously wait for the clock to turn to 9:00, with unique numbers ready to be copied and pasted at breakneck speeds. However, this mysterious and at times infuriating system is nonetheless the most efficient way to get us into the courses we need to graduate.

According to the Registrar’s office, registration has been organized by alphabet within classification by hours for most of UT’s history. For example, a sophomore named “Mandalapu” with 31-60 hours completed would register before a sophomore named “Rotnofsky,” but both would register after seniors who had completed more than 91 hours. Most universities still use this model.

However, hours completed doesn’t offer a complete picture of a student’s progress towards graduation, so in 2014 UT switched to organizing registration by percentage of degree completion, which more accurately reflects students’ degree audits. If students are concurrently enrolled in multiple colleges or majors, they get their registration time assigned based on the most complete degree. This ensures that students aren’t penalized for having diverse interests — a double major is already enough of a beating. 

“[The 2014 system] is a huge change and a huge improvement for our system from a standpoint of equity for students to be able to get the courses they need based on how far they are on the degree,” said associate vice provost Carolyn Connerat.

This upcoming registration session has seen additional tweaks to the model, like a registration help desk with advisors available to help upperclassmen get the credits they need before graduation. Additionally, this year’s freshman class of 8,500, up more than 1000 from 2014, will have more reserved seats available during orientation for “strategic freshman courses” like chemistry 301 and calculus 408K.

Registration isn’t perfect; there is still plenty of room for improvement. Slotting still varies by major, with STEM majors requiring more prerequisites and stricter degree plans than other majors, making it more difficult for students in these fields to make progress and permanently consigning them to later registration times. Students in some majors also have to deal with bottleneck prerequisite courses that quickly fill up. 

However, these conflicts usually aren’t a problem with the registrar’s office, but with departmental inefficiencies — honestly, why do professors love teaching courses on Tuesdays at 11 am? Percentage degree completion is the fairest way to organize the overall registration structure.

Connerat said that advising is key to maximize course scheduling. Being aware of required prerequisites and strategically claiming AP exam credit for courses that count toward your degree plan will improve your registration slot.

“I would say not to be stressed,” Connerat said. “We have made significant progress to make sure that students get the courses that they need, and have availability for them this year.”

At 9:01, while sitting in the wreckage of your perfectly planned schedule, it’s hard to be objective about a system that forced a Friday 8 a.m. class into your life. However, registration problems are a temporary pain, the most equitable solution to a convoluted problem. 

Hallas is a Plan II freshman from Allen. She is a senior columnist. Follow her on Twitter @LauraHallas.