Registration for spring classes started Feb. 11, leaving many Cal Poly students worried about not getting their necessary classes.
Though students can choose to use priority if they are anxious about getting necessary classes, priority must be used wisely because it is only available three times.
Debbie Arseneau, the Associate Registrar and employee in the Office of the Registrar for 28 years, said priority enrollment was originally intended for students’ last three quarters, in which students have less flexibility in their schedules. However, Arseneau said many students do not save their priorities for their intended purpose.
The issue of when to use priorities aside, some students also have trouble getting enough units to be considered full-time.
Ryan Blumenthal, a physics sophomore, has had this problem multiple times at Cal Poly.
“I have had trouble securing even 12 units before,” Blumenthal said. “When I don’t have a good registration date, I find it hard to get classes I need and classes I require for my major.”
Arseneau said acquiring classes was harder before PASS and CPReg were utilized in 2006. Before, Arseneau said, students sent in scantron-type sheets with the classes they wanted bubbled in with hopes they would get them. The schedules then had to be mailed, often taking a month for students to find out their classes, and some students were left with no classes at all.
“Less than 50 percent of the students actually got schedules, and then the rest had to crash classes,” Arseneau said.
Before that, students went through “arena” registration in the gym where students would grab cards from representatives of the classes they wanted. If they got a card, then they were enrolled in the class.
Now, with a more effective system, students still have problems but do not have to scramble or wait.
Some students still worry about their place in the registration rotation. The rotation periods vary from Feb. 11 at 8 a.m. — for qualified students with disabilities — to March 3 at 4 p.m., leaving some students registering far after the majority have.
To combat not getting classes Arseneau said students should be flexible. Not only are classes added during later rotation periods, but departments also monitor how classes fill in case they fill faster than anticipated. In that case, Arseneau said, more sections of those classes will be made available for students.
“Sometimes a class will be available and sometimes it won’t, or it may be available at a time when you really don’t like it, but that’s a time when it can be offered where it creates the least amount of conflict,” Arseneau said. “And sometimes for a quarter you have to kind of suck it up and take the class, even if it isn’t at the opportune time.”
Even then Arseneau said students may not get their preferred classes because of availability.
Statistics sophomore Diana Said said when she had late registration rotations, she would just be a little more flexible with her class choices.
“I got into ENGL 134 on a super late registration just by being flexible and taking early morning classes, and being willing to take Friday classes,” Said said. “I think it’s a good idea that Cal Poly does put some more classes for the people in the later rotations.”
The rotation schedules allow students to get into the top third of rotations once a year, but this qualifies for the lower third as well. The summer term is also included in the rotations, so sometimes students get into the top third during the summer when they may not be attending classes.
Mark Lerner, a software engineering sophomore, said Cal Poly’s method of registering was more effective than some alternatives.
“In others, registration is done by grade level, then by GPA,” Lerner said. “I feel that a rotation schedule like that becomes almost self-perpetuating, in that the people that are doing well get the classes they want, while people that may be suffering can’t choose the classes they need.”
Arseneau said at one point, Cal Poly used a year system, but it became problematic with a growing number of seniors.
“I think the most difficult part when we were doing it by year was that we had so many students who were seniors, because they would get to a certain number of units that would determine whether you were a senior or a junior or a sophomore or whatever,” Arseneau said. “Once you met that unit limit, you were a senior until you graduated, and that could be if you changed your major and (were) here for another two or three years after that. So, you had that big pool of students, and it just kept getting larger and larger.”
With the advancements Cal Poly has made, Arseneau said there is still always room for improvement. There is a registration and scheduling committee that discusses improvements in the system to make it easier for students to get the classes they need to graduate. Arseneau said the priority system currently in place actually came from this committee. Now the system may need updating.
For Lerner, the Cal Poly system would be more efficient if PASS were updated to be more “individualized.”
“That is, have PASS detect your major, and what classes you’ve already taken, and show you what classes would most benefit you,” Lerner said. “Something to that end would make it much more efficient. Also, I wish that they’d let you save more schedules in PASS.”
Lerner also said departments should make their course lists available sooner.
“I feel like the individual departments need to make their offered courses more available,” Lerner said. “For instance, I tried to plan out my schedule for this coming quarter a while ago, but I couldn’t find a list of offered courses for a couple of the different departments that I needed.”
Yet, even with registration woes, there are resources for students to use in order to get the classes they need.
Arseneau also said students should use their resources, such as the Office of the Registrars office and department advisers.
Blumenthal said he enlisted the help of his adviser when he was unable to get core classes.
“My department was a huge help by supporting me when I had trouble getting major courses,” Blumenthal said. “If anyone’s having a rough time registering, definitely send an e-mail to your adviser because they’re miracle workers.”
Arseneau still felt the registration process has improved significantly.
“From getting a card in the gymnasium to then submitting a request and getting it back a month later, to now when it’s instant and available,” Arseneau said. “I think definitely things have changed. And all for the better. They will continue to change for the better.”