Registration must be more transparent

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Photo Credit: Helen Brown | Daily Texan Staff

Fourteen tabs: open. Redbull: chugged, then chased with espresso. UT planner: burned into your retinas. 

During registration, it feels like the stakes couldn’t be higher. You’re competing against everyone else in the same registration window for the limited seats in the classes you need to complete your degree. Maybe you’re lucky and you get into the classes you wanted because sure, it’s possible that the stars were perfectly aligned in the shape of a 4.0 the day you were born. However, I know from personal experience that a lot of students don’t come out of registration with what they want. Sometimes, they don’t even get what they need. 

To better equip students for the mad rush of registration, UT needs to make the process more transparent. 

When I was a freshman, I didn’t know why my registration time was later than some of my friends and earlier than others. My academic adviser never mentioned it in our meeting before registration, and my professors didn’t either. I didn’t find out until much later from an informal conversation with a peer mentor that your registration time depends on how much of your degree you have completed. 

Plan II and public health freshman Nivedha Loganathan was in the same boat. “I was told that your registration time is determined by how many credits you have taken at college or claimed prior,” she wrote in a message. “I think most of that information came from upperclassmen, but my adviser has mentioned it.” Clearly, there’s a disconnect in information freshmen are getting about their registration time. 

The disconnect doesn’t end there, though. Students with prior credit from AP or IB exams have the opportunity to claim those credits instead of taking introductory classes. Claiming credit helps to boost a student’s degree completion and thus helps them get an earlier registration time. 

However, the deadline to claim credit in order to get an earlier time is too ambiguous. For example, when neuroscience sophomore Sophie Hughes went in to get advising for Spring 2020 registration, her academic adviser didn’t know much more than her. “When (my adviser) told me to claim AP credit, he said it probably wouldn’t affect my registration time for this semester, but he said he didn’t really know when the cutoff was,” Hughes said.

Mark Simpson, the assistant vice provost for Enrollment Services and University Registrar, agreed that such ambiguities do students no favors. “We run the calculations typically two or three weeks before registration, but every term, it varies,” Simpson said. “The process should be completely transparent.”

Without a standard source of information about the factors determining a student’s registration time, the whole process is left up to guesswork. This leads to stress, falling behind and ultimately, disillusionment. 

Hughes, for example, registered a whole day after her peers, and all the classes she wanted were closed. She ended up not being able to add a prerequisite class, which has led to her degree completion lagging behind her peers’. “It doesn’t affect whether or not I complete my degree, but it does affect the quality of degree I’m getting as compared to my friends. Things are not equal,” Hughes said. 

At an institution with more than 40,000 undergraduates, registration is always going to be a fiasco. However, it is the University’s job to make sure that all students have access to the resources and information they need to ensure the quality of the degree they walk off the graduation stage with. Come spring 2020, I hope to see a holistic repository of information related to registration. 

Dasgupta is a neuroscience sophomore from Frisco.