Registration challenging but survivable

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GRAPHIC BY RIEL WHITTLE AND KATHERINE YENZER / THE FLAT HAT

All I see is red when I log into my Degree Works. Sorry that my zero-completed courses have not brought my GPA above 0, sorry that I have yet to declare a major and sorry that I have not taken a capstone yet! It feels like I’m being reprimanded every time I log into the website.

If it was not already clear, I am a freshman here at the College of William and Mary.

Fall registration left me with heart palpitations and sweaty palms. “What ifs” filled my mind and left me worried for days. But, at the end of it all, I was lucky enough to get the classes I wanted. Was all of my stress for nothing, or is this a flawed system?

“In order to get into a calculus class, I dropped my biology class, but then I couldn’t get back into it again because the labs filled up. I ended up in tears and it felt like everything in the world was ending,” Kristen Salter ’22 said.

When I heard this, my immediate thought was that the process should not be causing this much distress only days into Orientation. There must be some better system.

But, really, there isn’t. Specialized groups such as athletes, ROTC members and those with disabilities get priority registration, but other than that, everyone is on a fairly even playing field.

“I don’t know what a better method would be besides time slots, possibly based off dorms. Yet, that would not be fair because my friend could get one of the earlier time slots and get all of the classes she wanted while I wouldn’t get any of the classes I wanted. I’m not really sure how there can be a better way,” Salter said.

Kami Sullivan ’19 has experience with both registration and priority registration. I asked her about the difference between the early and regular time slots.

“I thought [priority registration] would be my saving grace. However, being a physics major, with most of my major requirements, there has never been a risk of me not getting into a course. But for some requirements — like COLL 100 and 150 — it was a huge help,” Sullivan said.

This response shocked me. Around campus, people regard priority registration as the be-all and end-all of registration. Sullivan has helped me realize that the further I get into my major, the less stressful registration will become.

“As long as you have a backup plan, know what classes you want and occasionally ask a professor for an override, you will be fine. And by the time you’re a senior, they know you need to meet your requirements so they will start to prioritize you,” Sullivan said.

So, is the system really flawed?

For another perspective, I wanted to discuss registration with someone who has inside knowledge while also being a student. Peer Advisor Natalia Critchley ’21 said that her biggest concern was the website itself.

“I wish it didn’t really crash … I guess it’s inevitable, but I wish they could figure it out …But [registration is] the best it can be,” Critchley said.Critchley said that her best advice would be to write down all of your options and backups before registration and send override emails as quickly as possible.

“I always have my CRNs in an Excel spreadsheet with several pages of extra classes full of CRNs because it’s good to just get in somewhere you could be okay,” Critchley said. “I even just check to see if a class’s status has changed before registration. Some classes might all fill up from seniors and juniors, and so I’ll even send the override email then.”

Is registration broken? Maybe a little bit. But from one optimistic freshman to anyone who wants answers, I think it is definitely survivable.

Email Alyssa Slovin at amslovin@email.wm.edu