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Editorial: The frustration with registration


The closing weeks of the semester can be stressful for several reasons — one of them being registration week. Students are designated a day to wake up at 7 a.m. and while barely being able to keep their eyes open, fight for the classes they want.

Many of us were not well advised on what classes to take when registering for classes the summer before we arrived on campus freshman year. Looking back, we wish there was more instructions and outreach during this time. 

Communication and clarity are common grievances come registration time. 

Emily Ford, director of coordinated advising, said Lehigh has a decentralized advising system. This means the system of advising differs among the four colleges. She said while students in some colleges are assigned an academic advisor for their first year until they declare a major and transition to a faculty major advisor (College of Arts & Sciences and College of Engineering), students in other colleges are assigned a primary role advisor and gain a faculty mentor in addition to their advisor upon major declaration (College of Business, and the College of Health is transitioning to this).  

To address our concerns about registration for freshmen entering college, Ford clarified there are resources for these students, such as advising staff available during the summer in the CAS Advising Center.

“The College of Arts and Sciences is the only college that assigns advisors in August, right after the first-year registration period,” Ford said. “The reason they choose this timeframe is so that they can first review the students’ course selections and academic interests, and then match the students with an appropriate advisor.”

Ford said over the last couple of years, different webinars and advising support in the summer have been added for first-year students, likely more than what current upperclassmen had experienced. 

Linda Bell, director of administration and student services, said this is because of better advising coordination across the university.

“’I’m really trying to create an equitable, meaningful advising experience for all students, so that advising resources are not dependent on a student’s college or program,” Ford said. “We want to make advising more standardized, and not necessarily centralized, across colleges and programs.”

Still, 7 a.m. is not an ideal time for us to register for classes. On a typical day, we are not waking up this early, so it is frustrating that registering for classes forces us to do so. 

Bell said before the pandemic, this was always the case, however, the registration time was changed to 4:30 p.m. during the pandemic because students were all around the world in different time zones. The time to register returned to 7:30 a.m,  since the earliest classes begin around 8 a.m. and the administration believed keeping the afternoon time may disrupt after-class commitments. 

We’ve also heard frustrations over certain student groups registering up to 15 minutes prior. Bell said this priority registration includes students through the Disability Support Services, athletes in season for the upcoming semester and students in programs where a greater number of credits are required than normal, such as the Integrated Business and Engineering program. 

Bell said athletes need to schedule their classes around their teams’ schedules and students in the programs with a greater number of minimum credits have specifically-structured class requirements they need to take. 

Every year, there is always the question of why registration happens simultaneously across students with the same class standing according to the classification table, Bell said. She said the administration has tossed around the idea of staggering registration, however, there was never a fair method to determine who registers when. 

Bell said if you do not get a class you were hoping to get, the first week of registration does not necessarily determine that you can’t be in it.  

“Registration will remain open until the tenth day of class in the fall semester,” Bell said. “So after this week, departments and colleges are going to start reviewing who they have on the waitlist, who’s contacted their department because they couldn’t get on the waitlist during the class. All these things that happened during this initial registration period, they’re going to (be taken) into consideration and seats are going to open up and sections are going to open up and things are going to change.” 

Although we often find registration week to be troublesome and stressful, some of the issues can’t be resolved fairly. But something that can be done is to have more communicate with advisors throughout the semester to ensure students are on track and can build a relationship with their advisor beyond just meeting once a semester. 

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