In recent weeks, students once again faced the onerous process of course registration, as they vie for spots that seemingly fill up instantaneously. For students like Nadia Sadanandan (NHS ’24), the stress of registration and the inability to find spots in her first-choice classes are causes of distress and anxiety.
“I am definitely upset and discouraged when I am unable to get into a class. I also get stressed and anxious because oftentimes when I don’t get a certain class I have to move other classes around to fit in my second choice,” Sadanandan wrote to The Hoya.
Given student concerns about the difficulties of registering for classes, the Editorial Board urges Georgetown University to increase the quantity and widen the available time frame of course offerings that fulfill core and major requirements, as well as proactively incorporate student input into its course decision-making process.
Georgetown abruptly switched to the current system of live course registration in the beginning of 2019, despite 83% of undergraduate students preferring the preregistration system, which allowed a two-week window for students to submit their preferred course schedules. Academic deans would then register students based on course availability. Under the current system, however, students are assigned time slots according to the first letter of their last name, and priority is given to upperclassmen over first-year and sophomore students.
Extensive course requirements, on top of the live registration system, force students to compete with one another for limited spots. Students across all four undergraduate colleges are required to take at least 10 core curriculum classes. On top of these courses, students must also fulfill school-specific core requirements, as well as major and minor classes.
For example, students majoring in economics, one of Georgetown College’s popular majors, are required to take both “Principles of Macroeconomics” and “Principles of Microeconomics” as foundational courses. However, for the fall 2022 semester, there are only two options for each of these introductory courses, both of which are only offered between 11:00 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. While there may be enough seats in these classes for all students who want to take them, this limited time period makes it difficult for students to add their required core classes to their schedules, which are often held during similar class times.
Similarly, STEM students in the School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS) like Sadanandan, who are required to take nearly three hour-long labs, face difficulty creating course schedules that provide them with a viable academic path to graduation because of the rigid timing of core classes.
“It is definitely difficult to find core classes to fit my schedule. Since I am a STEM major, I have a lot of lab classes, which take up a lot of time. It is hard to find core classes that fit around this because a lot of them occur at around the same time/days. I did not register for a core class this semester, but during the last registration, I had very limited options for philosophy classes,” Sadanandan wrote.
According to a university spokesperson, the university considers a variety of factors when creating the timing and quantity of courses each semester, including faculty input, student course evaluations, room size, technological requirements and past trends in student registration.
Despite this claim, students continue to face difficulty finding spots in the classes they need to graduate.
For example, the “Science for All” core, a general category of science courses that all undergraduate students are required to take, offers relatively few classes tailored to students who are not majoring in STEM-related fields. For the fall 2022 semester, almost every one of the introductory science classes has been filled, leaving few options for non-STEM students who have yet to complete the requirement.
In order to ensure that class offerings align with student demand, the university must increase the number of classes offered by considering and incorporating student input into its decision-making process.
Under the current system, one student on the College Academic Council consults with administrators and faculty on the course schedule and classes offered to students in Georgetown College, according to Georgetown College’s website. While this current protocol is certainly helpful, the university should ensure that this committee includes more than one student’s voice and should work to integrate a larger group of students who represent a diverse array of majors, minors and concentrations.
The university does make an effort to take feedback from the general student body into account for the next semester during and after classes end each semester.
“Deans and academic advisors welcome feedback and engagement with students in their schools throughout the academic year, and the provost’s office and deans’ offices closely analyze and consider feedback given in course evaluations,” a university spokesperson wrote to The Hoya.
Though student feedback is valuable information after the fact, the university severely lacks direct input from students before the class schedule is finalized. By creating a working group of student representatives who collaborate directly with the administration and professors responsible for creating the schedule of courses, the university can ensure that all students are able to fulfill their requirements in a timely manner.
Students should not have to create excessive numbers of alternative schedules for fear that their required classes will run out of seats, or that the timing of these classes will conflict with one another. It is vital that the university offer more courses that are both representative of student interests and accommodating to different schedules by including student voices and perspectives in its decision-making process.
The Hoya’s editorial board is composed of six students and is chaired by the opinion editors. Editorials reflect only the beliefs of a majority of the board and are not representative of The Hoya or any individual member of the board.