Back in November 2017, several emails containing a survey about preregistration popped up in students’ inboxes. The same survey was sent to faculty earlier in the year. About half of all students and three-quarters of all faculty responded, expressing their wish that the school change its preregistration process from a year-by-year model to a semester-by-semester model. Of those who responded to the surveys, two-thirds of students and about 60 percent of faculty were in favor of the change.
Come Block 7 this year, when preregistration begins, students will sign up not for the eight classes of yesteryear, but rather, only the four classes of next year’s fall semester.
“Traditionally in the spring semester, students switch out of classes at a volume that’s way higher than in the fall,” said Associate Dean Pedro de Araujo. Considering this fact and other data, de Araujo and registrar office staff member Phillip Apodaca said it seemed clear that a system with two registration periods would make more sense and better suit students’ needs.
So, at the beginning of this year, de Araujo, Apodaca, and others began trying to figure out what to change about the system. Based on feedback from professors, they decided to lengthen the registration period by a few weeks so it falls during multiple blocks, allowing professors to teach off-campus classes during one of the two blocks but still be present for at least some of registration.
The Innovative Technology Solutions department also began working on an addition to Banner that would allow students to select their classes before meeting with their advisor in a sort of draft preregistration. On February 20, Apodaca sent an email officially announcing the change to the preregistration framework and the soft launch of the new Banner preregistration tool.
De Araujo and Apodaca pointed out that some of the inequities of the previous system will be improved with the new system. For example, rather than using 80 points on one semester of classes, students who study abroad or take a semester off will only have 40 points for the semester they spend at CC.
Faculty and student response has been generally positive; however, some students are worried that the plan is changing a system that has worked well enough thus far. “I’ve been lucky in that I’ve gotten into most, if not all, of my classes pretty much every year,” said junior Jordan Ellison. She worries that the new system will derail students like her from getting a spot in competitive classes that she and others need to graduate, like organic chemistry.
Previously, historical points data was available from the registrar’s website to guide bidding on popular classes like organic chemistry, however with a smaller pool of points per registration, many are wondering if they can rely on historical points data as a good indicator of how many points a class will still take. Where the amount of points to gain a spot in a popular class stabilizes is anyone’s guess, as numerous variables factor into students’ point decisions.
Faculty advisors, while generally supportive of the change, are contending with the additional workload that will be added by another preregistration session. Stephanie DiCenzo, a professor in the physics department who has about 36 advisees, estimates that under the current system she spends about 15 hours working through preregistration for all of her non-senior advisees. “That doesn’t sound like much, but actually under the block plan that’s two full working days,” said DiCenzo.
DiCenzo noted that although adding another registration period will not double her advising time since students will be registering for fewer classes at one time, she will still likely spend much more time in total meeting with students for preregistration. DiCenzo is hopeful that the new system will benefit students, but adds, “I guess I’m not thrilled about having dozens more meetings per year.”
Phoebe Lostroh, a professor in the molecular biology department, thinks that this new system does little to change the more pervasive problem in the registration process, the point inflation in certain disciplines. “The point system is seemingly fair, in that everyone gets the same number of points,” said Lostroh. “But actually, it is not fair because not everyone is in a major where they need points to complete that major.”
Lostroh cites classes like organic chemistry and computer science which have sufficiently high point thresholds, so students who are required to take them spend most of their points on those classes and miss out on taking other popular “liberal arts” classes. She hopes that the recent changes in preregistration may provoke discussion as to these other elements of inequity in the system.
The new system is going into effect for a trial period of two years, after which the administration will assess whether to continue with this system or go back to a once a year system. Until then, preregistration is going to have a big new normal to adjust to, but big changes and new normals are practically the history of CC.