When 40 Fewer Points can Cost $30,000

The unconvincing switch to semester registration

Recently, the Office of the Registrar emailed the Colorado College student body and faculty announcing that not only will preregistration be extended to five weeks, but that students will also only be allowed to register for one semester at a time. Despite the blatant irony of extending the window to register while cutting the registration itself in half, as well as the ungodly amount of exclamation points used in said email, the sequential nature of the Block Plan loses much of its purpose when students cannot plan their entire years at once.

Cartoon by Lo Wall

In last week’s Catalyst, Rory Lowe reported that two-thirds of students and 60 percent of faculty were in favor of the change. Primary concerns, however, span from advisors being overwhelmed with an increase in advisee meetings, to, most importantly, a fear that students will not get their desired/necessary classes. The Office of the Registrar argues that the 80-point registration system is inequitable, with students going abroad and first-years occupying either end of the spectrum. What the registrar fails to recognize, however, is that the luxury of such a small school with such small classes comes with the massive reality of students not getting into a class they need in order to progress in their major.

While this system levels the playing field between first-years and upperclassmen studying abroad and/or in upper-level classes that likely do not require any points at all, is this really something we need to resolve? Preregistration can mean class preference and reduced anxiety for some students, but for others, the need to place 80 points on a class is a matter of graduating, especially for students like Winter Starts and others who plan to graduate in three-and-a-half years. Need a high, in-demand class Block 8 to finish a major or minor? You should have the freedom to secure that class instead of sitting on the anxiety of an extra semester, or $30,000.

So, here is my proposed solution: if the registrar wishes to implement a two-year trial period of this semester-based registration, then they should also open second-semester registration to students who have declared their majors/minors to sign up for requirements. Not only will this solve the registrar’s issue of students declaring late into their junior—or even senior—years, it will relieve the stress that comes with the unknown of not filling necessary requirements.

As a rising senior in one of the smallest—and, frankly, intimidating—majors with one all-college requirement remaining, I have no stake in this issue. But to all of the rising juniors putting 30 or more points on the 48 spots in second-semester Organic Chemistry, I am sorry a required class and prerequisite will be so hard to obtain and that staying on track for your major is so uncertain. It may be that classes will be disproportionally more competitive first semester, as students do not want to take the risk to wait to register until second semester.

We do not need equity when we are comparing underclassman exploration to the price of a degree. Someone may switch three blocks of their second semester a million times, but let them have one block secured that will stabilize the rest of their time in college. That is not too much to ask. There is a balance that we must maintain between the value of the liberal arts and the fact that we have majors and required classes in order to graduate. A shortsighted registration process greatly affects that equilibrium.

If you don’t check the second semester course listings between March 26–April 27, I’d love to hear from you. Something tells me I won’t.

One thought on “When 40 Fewer Points can Cost $30,000

  1. The max number of points does not matter, the only thing that matters is that there is a max number. You could have 100 points per semester or 200 points a year, but the only difference between the current 40 and the hypothetical 100 is variation in wait list positions(less likely to have multiple students with the same points in different spots on the list). The max number of points is still the max number of points. So this new system gives the student looking to fulfill there major senior year more ability to not spend 30,000 because now students have 2 opportunities to spend max points. No classes in the past four years have had a minimum points required of 80, and I doubt that classes in the future will require 40 points and be wait listed.

    It is very possible that this is not the case. We will just have to wait until next year to find out.

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