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Priority registration date changes unlikely to affect student enrollment process

Courtesy Rebecca Noble

Journalism sophomore Emily Gauci searches for spring classes on UAccess on Sunday. Students have already begun the process of registering for classes in the spring semester.

While a shortened priority registration period may seem like a big change, it may not actually change much on registration day at all, given the registration habits of University of Arizona undergraduates.

Registration for the spring 2019 semester will take place over three weeks, with each group of students having three days of priority registration.

Previously, student groups had a week of priority registration, during which they could enroll in classes for the upcoming semester. However, once that week passed students had to wait until the end of the priority registration period to add any more classes. 

As a part of this year’s changes, registration will remain open for each group of students until the first week of classes in the new semester.

“The fact that the enrollment period will start and not end for students should really improve the process for all students,” said Beth Acree, the assistant vice president for Scholarships and Financial Aid & University Registrar in an email interview. “Now, once the student’s enrollment date begins, they can register at any time.”

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This change comes after a study conducted by the Registrar’s Office during March and April of 2017, the priority registration period for fall 2017, which analyzed the registration habits of undergraduates at UA.

The study found that, on average, 68 percent of undergraduate students register by the first available day and 75 percent register within three days. 

Given that a majority of students register within the first few days, this change is not expected to severely impact the enrollment process for most students.

“I don’t anticipate significant changes for students,” Acree said. “They will check UAccess for their assigned enrollment date beginning on October 18 and be prepared to begin registering on their assigned date.”

With this shorter registration period, UA will join some of its peer institutions who were considered by the Registrar’s Office.

“Other institutions … many of them do have the abbreviated registration period like we’re going to,” said Roxie Catts, director of the Advising Resource Center.

In addition to the shortened priority registration period, non-Honors students will also experience a change in the number of units they are able to register for.

In the past, non-Honors students could enroll in a maximum of 16 units during priority registration. 

“This practice was originally started when we had a shortage of general education tier one classes, and this is no longer the case,” Acree said. “Also, this practice doesn’t make as much sense with ongoing enrollment dates.”

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Starting this semester, non-Honors students will no longer be restricted by that cap and may register for up to 19 units, the current limit for Honors students as well.

“The two changes that I think are really going to be favored by students, and certainly by advisers, was to remove that 16-unit cap and once that enrollment appointment goes open, it stays open throughout,” Catts said.

For the foreseeable future, Acree and Catts say they felt that this change, though it shortens the priority registration period, is unlikely to have a large impact on students’ on their respective registration days.

“Say you’re gonna order a pair of shoes online, right?” Catts said. “The time is in deciding what you’re going to take, i.e. that meeting with your academic adviser … deciding the kind of shoes you’re going to buy is what takes time and thought and all the research … Buying them takes 10 seconds … So advising about what you’re going to take next semester is one thing and then actually registering for them … should take like 10 seconds, in a perfect world.”

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