The Crimson White

Priority impedes 'Finish in Four', students say

Allison Cohen

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Spring registration dates for 2015 have passed, but some University of Alabama students are still scrambling to find courses to take for the upcoming semester.

The University of Alabama’s registration system is credit-based, so the more credits a student has, the earlier their registration date will be scheduled and the less they will have to worry about getting their required courses.

If a student is enrolled in the Honors College, they will be given first priority – and therefore the earliest registration dates. As of this current registration period, a non-Honors College senior with greater than or equal to 128 earned hours will have to wait to register behind an Honors College student with greater than or equal to zero earned hours.

Emily Camp, a senior majoring in public relations not involved in the Honors College, said she disagrees with the system.

“It’s like a train wreck,” Camp said. “If you don’t get a certain class at a certain time, it messes up your whole schedule. I understand that it’s not realistic to get every class time you want, but it becomes a big issue when I can’t get into a general requirements class that I need to graduate next fall.”

Camp said she believes the system sometimes forces students to enroll for an extra semester to complete their coursework.

“The bottom line is that it’s not about your grades,” Camp said. “It’s about money. And time is money.”

Turner Waddell, a junior majoring in public relations and an Honors College student, was able to register early and said the perk of being an honors student does not relieve her from stress.

“This year I was supposed to register in the afternoon, and that morning some of my general requirement classes were already filled up,” Waddell said. “I’m trying to use those for my honors credits, which is difficult because the honors classes are so few that it’s nearly impossible to find one that will be useful to me in my four year plan.”

With a record-breaking enrollment of 36,155 students on the University’s campus this year, some students think more class sections should be offered.

“There is only one section for the honors public speaking class with a little over 20 seats available,” Waddell said. “It’s only offered in the fall. I’ve tried to register for this class twice, but each time the seats fill up.”

The University’s “Finish in Four” plan advises students to take 15 to 18 credit hours per semester to stay on track, but it does not anticipate students being unable to get into a course that is required by their major.

“What makes me mad is that I’ll have 15 hours left during my last semester at school,” Camp said. “If one of those classes is full, I can’t graduate.”

Michael Little, an instructor in the advertising and public relations department, believes the registration process has improved in the past several years, but there have been some hiccups.

“It’s hard to keep up with the amount of students that are coming here,” Little said. “Our professors are being maxed out. As a result, we have been hiring heavily. We’ve just filled three new positions and are hiring for three more.”

The Crimson White conducted an interview with Honors College Assistant Director of Student Services Jim Bailey in 2012. During that time, Bailey said, “priority registration is a standard practice in Honors Colleges across the country, including multiple SEC schools, to assist Honors students in completing their Honors coursework.”

Auburn University’s 2014 fall enrollment was 25,000 students, Mississippi State University’s 2014 fall enrollment had 20,000 students, and University of Arkansas’s 2014 fall enrollment was 26,000 students. 

Little recommends students be prepared for registration ahead of time to increase their chances of getting the schedule they want. He said a system geared toward seniority could be possible, with honors seniors applying first, followed by non-honors seniors and so forth.

“I’ve done my part completing the classes and paying the tuition,” Camp said. “I just wish the University would do their part in guaranteeing my diploma on time.”

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Priority impedes 'Finish in Four', students say