Registration changes for Phase I

Following years of student population growth, Tech advisors and registration faculty are looking into and testing new procedures to sreamline the course registration process. According to an email issued to students on March 26, changes for the upcoming course registration process will include limiting Phase I registration to 18 hours and combining summer and fall registrations.

“The processes we had when we had an enrollment of 10,000 students isn’t working anymore. [We have to] see if this is the best answer for how Tech has grown and matured,”said registrar Reta Pikowsky.

The previous credit hour cap for students in good standing during Phase I was 21 hours. According to the registrar’s office, a large percentage of students register for 21 hours, often including courses these students have already completed successfully. This often occurs when students with early time tickets “reserve” seats in classes for students with later time tickets.

“It’s harmful for the students who desperately need that class. It may be convenient for one student, but inconvenient and unfair for another,” Pikowsky said. Pikowsky also noted that 18 hours are still high enough to offer flexibility during Phase I, but low enough to prevent students from registering for classes unnecessarily.

“If ten percent of our students are signed up for one extra course, that’s 1200 seats that appear to be full,” said Dana Hartley, director of undergraduate studies.

From an administrative perspective, this change was made to optimize resource information well before the fall semester. Pikowsky noted that the number of students registered for a course after Phase I often drops during Phase II, adding that the fluctuation makes selecting classrooms, changing sections for courses and canceling classes logistically difficult.

“Otherwise, you [don’t] have a good sense of this until right before fall starts, and then it’s too late,” Pikowksy said.

The registrar will increase the cap to 21 hours during Phase II registration for students in good standing. However, students may apply for permits for more than 18 credit hours for Phase I at the registrar’s office, according to Hartley.

The purpose of changing the registration schedule is to allow students to select courses based on both summer and fall offerings, to receive simultaneous advising for summer and fall semesters and to simply have more time to register before leaving campus.

“If you had more time, you could maybe make more informed decisions about summer and fall courses,” Pikowsky said.

Statistics indicate that many technological issues occur during registration, particularly when too many people access OSCAR at once.

“We’re taking a really hard look at the technology we have… we can’t stutter along with the technology we have. Other institutions are doing things with better technology and more efficiently,” Pikowsky said.

To fix these issues, the Office of Information Technology (OIT) updated the database and web servers in Fall 2009 to accommodate the large capacity of users. Additionally, the registrar is opening smaller groups of time tickets over a longer span of time to prevent overcapacity. OIT will also be monitoring the website around the clock to prevent and to fix errors.

The planning for changes to registration was conducted by the registration task force, which consists of academic advisors and student representatives.

“It’s great that all these folks can come together and work for a better solution versus [us] just implementing something,” said associate registrar Craig Womack.

The registration task force plans to later address issues such as academic major restrictions on course registration and ensuring that students register for the correct classes for their degrees, using a degree-auditing program that highlights what classes still need to be taken, tailored to each student’s academic plans.