Sky Singer: GW’s class registration system should consider students’ majors, grade levels

Every student has carefully assembled a list of courses for the upcoming semester and woken up before dawn to frantically type numbers into an online form in order to score a seat in those classes.

Students map out schedules to fulfill their requirements and make time for internships or jobs the next semester. But even when we plan out the ideal schedules, we know the familiar feeling of disappointment when we watch our dream classes – or classes we need to graduate – fill up.

Of course, other students and I don’t expect to get into every single class we want. But too often, we are kept out of classes based on whose internet is faster or how early we woke up. Therefore, GW should implement a registration process that more fairly and systematically assigns students their classes. GW’s current registration system gives preference to students with faster internet connections, rather than to students who need classes to fulfill their majors’ requirements. The University can change this by using an online program that takes students’ grade levels and majors into consideration during registration.

Some universities, including the University of Pennsylvania, use a class registration system that isn’t on a first-come, first-serve basis. Penn uses a program called InTouch, an online processing system equivalent to GW’s Banweb, to register for classes. Students have two weeks to submit a list of classes they want for the upcoming semester that are organized by preference through InTouch. Students also offer alternative courses they want to take if they don’t get their first choices. Taking into consideration students’ grade levels, the program determines what classes students enroll in.

Vassar College has a similar registration process to Penn’s. Students are required to meet with advisers before they submit their class preferences, and then students are assigned to their preferred classes based on their majors and years. For example, a political science major submitting a request for a political science course in their major will have preference over a student who is a biology major. Regardless of students’ class years, it doesn’t make sense that a senior majoring in international affairs is able to register for an English elective that a sophomore English major may need. Allowing students to prioritize classes as they fit into their long-term academic plans would help establish a registration system that is more considerate of students’ academic needs.

Though Vassar and Penn have different student bodies and administrators than those at GW, our institution can make changes to the registration process that will help students get classes they both want and need. Of course, it’s easier for Vassar to require each student to meet with their advisers before class registration because the Vassar’s undergraduate student body is about a fourth of GW’s. But if Penn – which has a comparable undergraduate student body to GW – is able to make registration a stress-free process, GW should, too.

As students, classes should be some of the most important aspects, if not the most important aspects, of our college experiences. Taking classes that we are interested in and count as credits toward our majors help us enjoy the time we spend learning about the subjects. Our interest and desire to be in classes motivate us to put in the work to get as much out of it as we can.

We all understand and accept that students have to take classes they don’t like. But the purpose of a registration system is to prioritize which classes we want and offer alternative courses to give students more control over even their default schedule. Of course, a registration system like Penn’s or Vassar’s does take student choice out of the mix. At a school like GW where so many students work or intern, it makes sense that students would want to choose courses that are held on certain days of the week. A new registration system at GW would have to take that into consideration and give students the opportunity to say what days and times of the week they are hoping to take a class.

Classes play an integral role in student life at GW, and administrators should make sure we have the most effective means of setting out our academic plans. Establishing a more organized and fair system – that isn’t a race to enter CRN numbers on a website that crashes – will give students a fair chance to take classes they need and that most interest them.

Sky Singer, a junior majoring in political science, is a Hatchet opinions writer. Want to respond to this piece? Submit a letter to the editor.

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