As first-year students experience the annual rite of passage that is ‘registration,’ this particular period of time calls to mind similar episodes for all other students on campus. It evokes a range of sentiments across different disciplines, but there are a few grievances among students that seem to reverberate louder than the rest.
One commonly voiced issue is the existence of major-restricted classes. While it is understandable that opening up certain classes creates overhead costs and a need for hiring more faculty, which may not be feasible, there is also an argument to be made for not only increasing but facilitating interdisciplinary study on campus. Perhaps we at the Technique are some of the best suited students to push for interdisciplinary study, as the very existence of the publication is owed to an amalgamation of students across the spectrum of study. Too often, however, this is a rarity, with students tending to aggregate among people in the same major, with similar outlooks, leading to homogenized social groups and communities.
It only takes one class for a student’s mind to be opened to a new career path they didn’t know existed, or for career credentials to be enhanced by the ability to engage in unconventional thinking. At any rate, the current class registration structure discourages students from taking classes unrelated to their track of study and may be too specialized for those that desire more holistic academic exposure.
Other issues include nuances related to timing issues and increased access to classes. For instance, the Add/Drop period for classes ends on the Friday of the first week, with students being plunged into classes that they may still have misgivings about. It would be ideal for students to be able to to ‘shop’ around for classes without worrying about space. Although it would be difficult given the rigor of upper-level classes and sometimes tight schedules, it does not seem unreasonable for the period to be extended one week, allowing students time to get a feel for what the class is actually like.
Additionally, a problem faced by Tech and other state universities like Berkeley is the overpopulation of classes. When it becomes necessary for the fire marshal to look into fire safety hazards due to standing-room only classes, we urge the administration to consider more stringent enforcement of class sizes to be offset by an increased number of sections.
The stress of registration might be further alleviated by more transparency in how permits are issued and with the waitlist system (scores of students claim the possibility of ‘jumping’ the waitlist or being arbitrarily demoted). The front-end of registering is another topic entirely, given that students from the 1980s also used OSCAR. Issues of non-intuitive page sequences, confusing CRN’s, Buzzport’s lack of mobile compatibility and stressful instructions given in boldface seem to be problems that could be solved by students. Students looking to gain experience could contribute code to a long-range or open-source project incentivized by the improvement of user experiences for both current and future students.
However, these issues of registration are symptoms of larger institutional problems, and speak to ever-present but understandable issues with allocation of the limited financial resources any large institution is bound to encounter. While we recognize that the administration cannot simply deliver on every request by the student body, it also should not be a stretch to ask for a system that facilitates an improved educational experience.
Impediments in registration create unnecessary frustration, and as students who have gone through several cycles of registration, we offer suggestions for remedying a long-standing wellspring of stress based on cycles of personal experience.