Staff Ed: DU Registration process needs work

We’re halfway through the semester here at Duquesne and about to enter a stressful time for all students. Freshmen will get their first taste of how frustrating the impending process is. Sophomores may be frantically trying to plan so their final two years go smoothly. Seniors are happy they never have to do it again.

That’s right – it’s almost time to register for classes.

In the next few weeks, students will meet with advisors, agonize over course schedules and read course descriptions backwards and forwards. On March 18, students will clamor out of bed at 8:30 a.m., pray that Dori is up and running and hope they can schedule all of the courses they want without being waitlisted.

Being victorious at the end of this particular battle doesn’t ensure that the following semester will be a breeze, though. There’s nothing guaranteeing that, despite reading the course descriptions, you’ve picked a class that will fulfill any of the scores of core requirements Duquesne insists all students complete before graduation. There’s also no promise that your classes will be what you expected once the course begins.

Before the fall 2012 semester, there wasn’t a complete document outlining which classes fulfilled particular core requirements. The answer of which course to take often varies from adivsor to advisor. The guiding document produced for fall 2012 is a great sign of progress in selecting courses, but there are still improvements that should be made.

Students often pick a class that sounds great on paper and are unpleasantly surprised when they realize the description offered is out-of-date and the course has been restructured. Even worse is seeing a bunch of great, interesting courses listed on a department’s website, only to find that they aren’t offered once in the entire four (or six, for graduate students) years spent here.

Adding and changing courses to reflect developments and advances is great. Equally important is making sure that students are aware of these changes before scheduling. There’s nothing more frustrating than sitting in the crowded advising office for hours during the University’s add/drop period in an attempt to change a class that wasn’t adequately described beforehand.

Departments should take a long, hard look at their course catalogues in the next few weeks. Reevaluating them and rewriting descriptions may be a time consuming task, but it is a crucial step in making sure that students and faculty are prepared and on the same page once the new semester begins.