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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Registration doesn’t have to hurt

    It’s perhaps the only time of year besides finals week when students can be seen staring fiercely at computers at 7 a.m., bloodshot eyes fixed on the screen and palsied hands poised over their mouses.

    This kind of single-minded fixation and misery can only mean one thing: Spring registration is upon us. In this urgent time, a missed alarm or printing problem can be the difference between getting the classes you want and filling your schedule with basket-weaving classes to maintain your full-time student status.

    Part of the reason registration is such a miserable experience is that it is a huge drain on both students and UA staff. Students who would otherwise never be seen in an advising office, let alone their classes, are suddenly pestering their advisers with a zeal comparable to their most dedicated peers. The influx of rabid students results in a time crunch for all the departments, which can’t focus on individual students effectively. The result? A rigid emphasis on prerequisites and rules for appointments, rather than attention to students’ goals and interests.

    As an English major, registering for classes is particularly frustrating. The English department has engineered a set of advising guidelines that seem designed to punish students, rather than make the process easier. An e-mail to all English majors in mid-March declared “”If you are more than five minutes late for your appointment … or show up four minutes late and are unable to print a SAPR within the five minute ‘late’ window, you will be REQUIRED to reschedule.”” In other words, the students who missed their bus, or ran out of printer ink, will be prevented from registering until every other English major at the UA has had the opportunity to sign up for classes. Maybe it’s an essential coping mechanism for dealing with the sudden influx of students, but it sure doesn’t seem like the attitude of a department concerned with its students’ well-being and academic success.

    This pattern is repeated all over campus, where it’s assumed that college students can’t muddle through their SAPRs. Rather than serving as a resource for students to maximize the quality of their education, advisers often relegate themselves to the role of babysitter – in many cases, students end up making appointments just to be told what they already know (unless they’re five minutes late, that is). This attitude isn’t wholly the fault of advisers, however. Most students, until a few weeks before their registration period, aren’t thinking about what’s next at all. It’s a cycle: Students assume advisers will tell them what courses are necessary, so they don’t bother to do the work on their own. Advisers assume that students don’t know their SAPRs from their SATs and are frustrated and exhausted before registration has a chance to begin. Amid all this mistrust and irritation is a window of only one week to make decisions that significantly impact the next four or five months of students’ lives.

    The only way to resolve the problem this year is to do a little extra work. I know, I’m sorry. This semester, before you register for classes, go out for coffee or pizza and get acquainted with your SAPR, the expectations of your major and your own expectations for your education. It’ll be like a date – with your future! Awful jokes aside, going into an advising appointment knowing your prerequisites and core requirements cold allows you to spend valuable face time with your adviser talking areas of study that interest you or classes you’d like to know more about. The increased quality of time with your adviser will have a positive impact on your future schedule – and building a good relationship with your adviser can only help you in the long run.

    On the other hand, advisers should endeavor to treat students with more respect during registration. The assumption that without the wisdom gained from a 10-minute sit-down with a stranger, economics majors would have schedules filled with modern dance classes and biology majors would bypass all of their lab work is just silly. Rather than infantilizing students with draconian guidelines for appointment-making and an almost obsessive fixation on prerequisites rather than individual interests, expecting students to take more responsibility during registration will necessitate that students actually prepare for their appointments. Sure, they might be printing out their SAPRs within the five-minute window now, but what good is that if they never look at them?

    Registration is a pain – there’s no getting around that. But it’s no justification for treating students like children, and placing responsibility for thousands of students’ successful graduations solely on the shoulders of an overworked advising staff is counterproductive and unfair. This spring, students and advisers should endeavor to be kinder to each other – and change registration from a huge chore into an invigorating challenge.

    Sarah Devlin is a sophomore majoring in English and political science. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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