Registration order to be based on degree progress instead of credit hours starting April

Madlin Mekelburg

When students register for fall classes starting in April, registration-access time will be determined by how close students are to completing their degree — not their classification.

David Laude, chemistry professor and senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management, said the current system for determining registration-access time, with students classified as seniors registering first and freshman registering last, is “broken.”

“Over the last couple of decades, there has been this trend toward students earning semester credit hours through placement credit or summer credits, so that it’s very common for a student to arrive on campus and achieve sophomore or even junior standing — even as a freshman,” Laude said. “The problem is that we have dramatically shifted the number of students we would refer to as seniors … where there are far, far more of that particular population than anyone else.”

According to Laude, about 39 percent of students are currently classified as seniors and, therefore, register on the first two days. Laude said after the new system is implemented, approximately 22.5 percent of students will register within the first two days.

Laude said he saw the possibility to create a more specific measurement of how far students are from completing their degree through his work with Shelby Stanfield, vice provost and registrar. The team worked to redefine the interactive degree audit tool — an online tool students can use to calculate how far they are from graduation.

“If there are two kids applying for a particular course — one of them needs it because they’re about to graduate, the other one doesn’t need it — but, because their name starts with an ‘L’ instead of a ‘Q,’ they get it ahead of time,” Laude said. “In my mind, the kids that most need a class are the kids that are closest to graduation.”

Associate vice provost Carolyn Connerat said, when students are double majoring, only the major closest to completion will be considered when determining registration access time.

Laude said the new system will help encourage students to select a major earlier.

“The hope is that we can help students to go through the personal process of figuring out what kind of major they would like to have before they arrive on campus, and that will get them launched into their degree plans as soon as they can,” Laude said. “If a student is uncertain of what courses they want, then they should be registering later because they’re registering for courses that are typically those you would expect someone to have their freshman year.”

Biomedical engineering senior Shehryar Siddiqui said he is unsure of how the new system will affect him.

“I’m technically a junior right now [by year], and I have a lot of transfer hours that once worked well for me in terms of registration, but this might change that,” Siddiqui said.

Laude said some transfer students will be affected by the change, but the problems they encounter will be a result of the varying structures between schools rather than the new process exclusively.

“Initially, it may be the case that there are going to be some transfer students who are not going to be as far along the way to graduation, but that’s not a consequence of our process,” Laude said. “It’s just a consequence of the fact that the advising structure and the admissions structure wasn’t as good as it needed to be.”