I look at the top right screen of my laptop, watching as the seconds pass on the clock. Placing one hand on the “Ctrl” and “V” keys and the other on the mousepad controlling the cursor hovering over the button labeled “Submit,” I anxiously await the time. Five seconds left. Four. Three. Two. One. Zero. I press Submit. The tab of the browser only shows the spinning circle indicating that it’s loading. I wait, but all I continue to see is a white screen. I try refreshing the screen, only to read “Banner is unavailable.” One by one, I check all the classes I planned on taking. Zero seats available. Closed. -10 spots available.
Already? It’s been five minutes since registration started. I frantically open up a window with my email account already pulled up. I open up my draft box, open up all four drafts with the same title, “Override Needed” and press send on all of them. I go back to Banner and course list in hopes of finding at least a mediocre class.
Will any of them help with my major requirements or proficiencies? I open the document with all the potential classes I wanted to take, cross-referencing them with Open Course List. Of course. All full.
As a freshman, I get the short end of the stick when it comes to course registration. Freshmen get the last time slot, when most classes are full. On top of that, we have to fulfill certain proficiencies in order to graduate. Freshman year is the time to figure out your interests, major and future career. But it’s not possible with a limited number of options. By the time freshmen register for classes, they are pretty much stuck with classes that are so irrelevant to their major, or any major really, that no slots have even been taken.
You can’t just have a Plan A and a Plan B. You need a backup plan for the backup plan for the backup plan, and that’s just if you’re lucky.
Personally, I was stuck deciding between two majors. In order to fulfill either major, I had to take certain classes freshman year to “stay on track.” During course registration, I had at least four different plans for taking these classes because I knew all the slots would fill up quickly. You can’t just have a Plan A and a Plan B. You need a backup plan for the backup plan for the backup plan, and that’s just if you’re lucky. By the time I could register, all the sections for either class became full. Naturally, I sent the please-I’m-desperate-for-an-override email, only to get the typical sorry-but-maybe-next-semester response. At that point, I was frustrated, because I couldn’t take either of the classes that would let me know which subject I was more interested in. The course registration system had never felt more unfair.
I understand why it is structured the way it is. Upperclassmen need certain classes to fulfill their major requirements and their proficiencies. With good reason, they are prioritized over us. Our time will come when we get the benefit of registering early. However, by that time, we’ll already have decided on a major, a decision which was probably shaped by the availability of certain classes.
I came to college with excitement for the freedom to choose a variety of classes without being limited to four electives, but that certainly is not the case. I know that there are only a limited number of spaces for each class and some are certainly more popular than others, but I certainly did not come to college to get stuck with classes that I have zero interest in.
I realize that not much can be done about the system. There could be more sections for popular classes and less “filler” classes, but there are difficulties to implementing such ideas, and that would only be one part of the underlying problem in colleges everywhere. Oh well, better luck next year.
Email Sharon Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org.