Is it time to update the registration process at Tech?

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

With the release of the course catalog this week and the beginning of the registration imminent, we at the Technique wanted to discuss the registration process and have a larger conversation about the flow of courses at the Institute. 

Most importantly, we encourage more clarity for the Institute in all aspects of registration. For example, as Tech’s incoming class size only increases, the question of how many sections of which courses should be offered becomes more complicated and far less clear to students. Certain sections of courses, especially prerequisites that freshmen need, are essential to the flow of courses Tech sets out for its students. When these are disrupted, it is difficult for students — especially first-years who are still unfamiliar with the academic system — to ensure that they get back on their desired track.

In addition, part of the reason we feel that students are struggling to adapt to difficulties in registration is the lack of support from advisors. Advisors are often knowledgeable about traditional paths that students may follow but may not be as helpful in other situations such as aiding transfer students. This presents a unique challenge since it is often these students, who lack the resources and are facing a difficult transition, that are unable to get support from their advisors. This also highlights the fact that there is often more nuance to registration than advisors could reasonably know. For example, there are certain courses that are heralded as difficult courses within majors and are not recommended to be taken together, but not all advisors would not be able to provide this information.

Moreover, the lack of clarity is not just limited to the current registration process but also to the deficit of information regarding future courses. Certain courses that are required for majors are only available in certain semesters, but this information is not highly publicized and consequently makes it difficult for students to figure out their courses past the current year. While we understand that there are unexpected aspects of registration, such as a sudden faculty departure, that cannot be planned for, we still encourage the Institute to provide as much information as possible regarding future course offerings. 

Finally, we also encourage the administration to change their dialog around students who take more than four years to graduate. While there has been great improvement in how students talk about five-year college plans, the administration still creates a stigma around it by their reluctance to highlight it. Multiple stories of students graduating in less than four years populate Tech’s social media, but it is rare to find a post highlighting the accomplishment of students who take more than four years.

In fact, we encourage Tech to begin to move away from the idea of a four-year, five-year or six-year plan. Rather, we encourage Tech to focus on emphasizing a specialized plan for each student, separate from the years it takes them to graduate. 

By doing this, we think that students will be free of the pressure of needing to fit all their credits into four years. Multiple news outlets and articles continuously perpetuate the idea that a four-year college plan is the standard and is easy enough to complete if you just take about 15 hours a semester. However, Tech is not like every other school. The student body has realized that, but it is time for the administration to do the same.