The race to register: Delaware student struggles reflect a national trend
With course registration occurring throughout the week, students at the university wait anxiously to sign up for courses next semester, many of them unaware of what classes they should take to fulfill major requirements.
According to a study done by Complete College America, only 20 percent of students in America pursuing four-year bachelor’s degrees complete them on time. At the university, it seems as though course registration is a race and whether or not students graduate on time is dependent on the circumstances.
“Some students in the same year will be able to register almost a week before you which is a major disadvantage because the classes you need will most likely be filled,” Shamael Khan, a senior education major, said. “When it comes to preparation for registration, there is little to no guidance on what classes are needed to be taken from advisors, so you just have to figure it out on your own.”
The order in which students register for courses is largely dependent on previous credit count — this allows students with more credits from previous semesters or AP credits from high school to register before their peers.
Senior psychology major Lauren Hopkins’ experience echoed Khan’s sentiments.
“Freshman year was the only year I had help [registering for classes] … it would have been nice to have some more advice on it because I was kind of floundering,” Hopkins said.
Some new students at the university do not seem aware of basic requirements of their major. Hopkins herself was unaware of the degree audit, a system on UDSIS that allows students to look up all of the requirements for their major.
Whether or not requirements needed for graduation are met also depends on the major itself. The communications major is notoriously competitive — as students apply two years into their college career, and only the top 125 ranked students are accepted
Many students entering the university intending to be communications majors are unaware of the program’s competitiveness and the possibility that they may not be able to enroll in it.
“[It’s] kind of ironic [that the communications major] is bad at communicating,” said Grace Otley, a sophomore communication and French dual major.
When students come to the university intent of becoming a communications major, they may not be aware of the process they are getting into. Before students truly gain admission into the major in their sophomore year, they are labeled as “communications interest” and select classes that will help them gain “quality points” in order to make it into the top 125 ranked students who also hope to receive admission – all of whom then become official communications majors.
If students fail to make gain admission into this major, a process they may not have know about when first enrolling at the university, they must scramble to find another major or add on another semester in order to take classes offered at select times of the year.
“You can’t transfer in or out with this system,” Kerigan Butt, a political science and communication double major, said of the quality points system unique to communication majors.
“The entire experience has been negative, especially because the people that are supposed to guide you don’t do the best job at it,” Khan said about course registration. “[The university’s] advisors [should be] better trained to actually aid the students instead of them having to figure it out on their own.”
According to Student Government Association (SGA) president Kevin Peterson, the organization has been working with the administration to address the quality of the advisement system, specifically within the College of Arts and Sciences. Most recently, they were involved in helping to create the new advisement website.
The situation at the university reflects the confusion of college students nationwide, as the Department of Education reported that in 2006 only 59 percent of students who started at 4-year public institutions — like the university — were able to graduate by 2012. A report by Complete College America reflected on the matter by stating“ …something is clearly wrong when the overwhelming majority of public colleges graduate less than 50 percent of their full-time students in four years.”
Kevin Travers contributed reporting.