ROBBINS: Making course selection less restrictive – The Cavalier Daily

Course selection is vital to a student’s success – choosing the right classes can make or break a semester. Each course should be carefully selected to ensure that it serves a greater purpose in the student’s academic career, whether to meet a general education requirement, count towards their major, or allow them to experience another field of study that can help them determine their future path. Thus, students are under extreme pressure towards the end of the semester – not only do they have to complete final projects and exams, but they also have to plan ahead enough to be able to plan their course schedule for the upcoming semester.

Course selection is not easy – students are assigned registration times and dates when they must register. Upper classes get slots first and underclasses last, meaning that often by the time first and second years can sign up for classes, many are full or have long waiting lists. It makes sense – it ensures that upper-class students, who are about to graduate, can take the necessary courses to graduate and graduate on time. But even for higher grades, there is no guarantee that they will be able to enroll in the courses they want or need. Students should plan the courses they want to take before they register, but by the time they are allowed to enroll in courses, they may need to change their entire plan. This process of trial and error to find courses to take is hard enough, but the challenges don’t end there. Another major difficulty exists in that even though students have everything planned out, they are limited by the number of credits they are allowed to enroll in on that initial date – students are only allowed to enroll for a maximum of 15 credits.

At first glance, this may not seem like a problem – in the most basic sense, 15 credits means taking five standard 3-credit courses. But in reality, it is extraordinarily prohibitive. While the standard class is 3 credits, any class that has a lab component or simply requires a larger workload counts as 4 credits. 4-credit courses are common to all majors, so this restriction means that many students can only register for a maximum of four courses, or 12 to 13 credits, when they initially register for the course if they plan to take a four-credit course. This student will have to wait for the opening of registrations to be able to register for a full schedule, in which case he may have to take the courses he wishes or must take. With many students working towards completing multiple majors and minors, this is significantly limiting. Trying to balance several different fields of study with general education requirements means needing flexibility in course scheduling that a 15-credit limit does not provide.

Even a simple increase in the initial credit limit to 16 credits would alleviate some of the problems caused by this unrealistic limit. 16 credits is a fairly standard number of credits – this would mean a student taking four traditional 3-credit courses and one 4-credit course. By increasing the credit limit up front, students could enroll immediately at a still quite reasonable schedule rather than having to wait for open enrollment to begin a few weeks later with the risk that the courses they have need are already filled.

With over 18,000 undergraduate students registered at the University, it is understandable that the administration must create certain restrictions to ensure that all students can enroll in courses. Credit limits are therefore theoretically put in place to ensure that all students can register for courses and that not all courses are filled before other students have the opportunity to register. However, in practice this is not the case. Although the intention is positive, the impact is even more unnecessary stress and tension for the students. Raising the credit limit by one credit would likely not prevent students with late registration dates from registering for full schedules. Since a 16-credit course load still only translates to five courses – the standard number of courses a student must take – a student taking four 3-credit courses and one four-credit course should not prevent other students from enrolling in full course loads. There are hundreds of courses offered each semester and plenty of space for students. Raising the credit limit by a single credit would reduce student stress and make the course selection process more transparent for everyone.

Hailey Robbins is opinion writer for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at [email protected]

The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Cavalier Daily. The columns represent the opinions of the authors only.

About Stuart M. McFarland

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