COLUMN: Course registration frustrates students

Navigating course requirements, conflicting class times and scarce advising spots complicates the registration process.

Cela is a sophomore journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about daily life for The Maneater.

It’s that time of year again. Buds grow on trees, the weather gets warmer and early registration begins. For students, course registration provides them the opportunity to plan their schedule for the next semester and gain early access to classes.

However, this process can be frustrating and stressful due to conflicting class times, navigating course requirements and finding time to meet with an advisor. Oftentimes, it’s necessary to schedule a meeting with an advisor a month in advance to secure a spot.

Not all students secure a spot before their registration time and may have to wait even a week after early registration to meet with their advisor and confirm their classes. Increasing layers of difficulty with course registration occur for students who are pursuing double majors or minors, in the honors college and upperclassmen.

It’s hard enough to juggle one area of study’s requirements, let alone two. Early registration presents a double-edged sword for honors students, as they’re able to enroll in classes earlier but also are the first to encounter issues with course registration that typically get fixed by the time regular registration comes around. Upperclassmen experience similar stress in finalizing graduation plans and enrolling in specific courses that are only offered select times and semesters.

One 30-minute advising session may not be enough for a student to plan their next semester, and advisors receive a flurry of emails in the week leading up to registration as students encounter class registration difficulties and questions. They are not always able to respond to emails immediately, which is no fault of theirs.

At MU, there were 31,103 students enrolled in the fall 2020 semester, with 23,296 undergraduates. According to the MU News Bureau, there are 80 employees on campus who have an official “academic advisor” title. Additionally, there are more than 1,200 additional faculty and staff who have other job titles, but also have official academic advising duties.

Considering just the 80 employees who hold official academic advisor titles, the ratio of advisors to students at MU is about 389-to-1. Taking into account the other faculty and staff who also have official academic advising duties, the ratio is closer to 24-to-1.

No matter the ratio, it’s important that students feel support and well informed on their academic journey. When stretched thin, it’s difficult for advisors to spend time or focus on a single student because hundreds of other students need their attention as well. Students should have ready access to their advisors, as class choices influence graduation plans and the financial cost of the next academic semester.

Although there are ample advising resources, students are not always aware of the additional resources available to them or they may not have the time to exhaust all avenues. When juggling school work, classes, extracurriculars, jobs and other responsibilities, students do not always have the time to schedule several meetings with advisors and professors.

Enrolling in the right class ensures a student is on track for their career path and allows them to budget for the future. Residents pay $306 per credit hour and non-residents pay $920.40 per credit hour, so students should be well informed and get the most value out of the courses they enroll in. Taking the wrong class could cause hundreds of dollars to be misallocated and disrupt a student’s graduation plan.

A student seeking to fulfill a specific course or area requirement may find that the class they’re enrolled in does not satisfy that requirement. They may be too ambitious in taking an upper-level class, receive a bad grade and drop the class, affecting their GPA or losing money and time that could’ve been spent on an alternate course.

Students should be able to build rapport and relationships with their assigned academic advisor. The assigned advisor stays with the student throughout the student’s undergraduate experience and gets to see them grow. Meeting for 30 minutes once a semester is not enough.

For students who are able to form a certain trust with their assigned advisor, that trust can be hard to replicate with impersonal drop-in advising hours when the advisor is unavailable. They may prefer to wait to register for courses until they get feedback from their assigned advisor, risking spots in a desired class filling up.

Going through early and regular registration is always stressful as students add one more item to their academic balancing act. It’s essential they have ample access to their advisors and advising services to make the best choices for their future. For this to happen, MU needs to hire more academic advisors. This will decrease the student to advisor ratio and allow advisors to devote more time to a smaller pool of assigned students.

_In pursuit of racial and social equity, The Maneater encourages its readers to donate to The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network. NQTTCN is an organization dedicated to “transforming mental health for queer and trans people of color.” Donate at: https://www.flipcause.com/secure/cause_pdetails/OTM5Njg=_

Edited by Sydney Lewis | slewis@themaneater.com

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