Students encounter registration trouble

by Beacon Staff • December 13, 2006

This year, some are having problems getting into ones they need.

Lauren Schumacher, a sophomore film major, had such a difficult time finding classes for her major that she is currently signed up for only two courses.,Nearly every semester, many Emerson students report having trouble registering for classes they want.

This year, some are having problems getting into ones they need.

Lauren Schumacher, a sophomore film major, had such a difficult time finding classes for her major that she is currently signed up for only two courses.

"There is a normal progression for film majors," Schumacher said. "You take Film I, then Film II, but you can't take electives until those are done. I had a late registration and I got one of the last five slots in any film class."

All undergraduate students are required to meet with an academic advisor prior to the beginning of each semester to discuss which classes they plan to take and to receive their online registration code and time.

Lynn Butkovsky, director of academic advising, said students should speak to professors about over-enrolling in courses if they are unable to register online.

"While [over-enrolling] isn't always possible, due to the constraints of the room or the course itself, it's an option worth exploring," Butkovsky said. "We recommend that students speak to the department chair if they are having trouble getting into a class for their major."

Zach Schiffman, a sophomore television and entertainment marketing major, said he had a lot of difficulty since he created his own major and had specific classes he needed to take to graduate on time with the class of 2009.

One of the classes Schiffman needed for a timely graduation was introductory studio television production, a course that has only three sections of 16 students each, is one of seven required class options for all TV majors.

"When it was my turn to register there was nothing left and I had an early registration time," Schiffman said.

Registrar William DeWolf said the number of complaints this year has not been unusual compared to past years.

"The most frequent complaints are the number of sections or the type of class," said DeWolf. "We aim for fairness to the student in the registration process."

Students have found other ways of subverting the system, however.

Nate Berends, a sophomore marketing communication major, started a Facebook group that now boasts over 100 members, all claiming to have had trouble with registration.

Berends started the group after he ran into difficulties while registering for an American Sign Language (ASL) course.

"For ASL I, there were three sections this semester. For ASL II [next semester], there were two, and they were all booked," Berends said. "I need ASL II for my language credits. It was strange because we do pride ourselves of the communication disorder major."

Berends said he contacted several teachers in an attempt to over-enroll in courses and was placed on several waiting lists.

The way the administration decides the number of sections to have each year assumes all students will graduate in four years. However, students who attempt to graduate early throw off the number of people who need a particular class each semester leading to a shortage of seats, said Berends.

Daniel Kempler, communication disorders chair, said he has seen only a few requests for more classes and none in the past years. Most of the issues this year were a result of ASL, which is harder to accommodate than other classes.

"For some classes going from 18 to 22 is not a big deal, but for ASL, it is really hard since it is such an interactive class," Kempler said. However, Kempler said he has hired a new teacher and placed a request for a room in order to add another section.

Still, the rush for classes is not unusual according to Michael Selig, visual and media arts (VMA) department chair.

"This year is about the same as past years, but we will be adding more sections next year where we've seen consistent need," Selig said. "This year we're trying to hire more people and open more sections."

The waitlist is not a hopeless option for students. VMA is taking steps to help those waiting for a class.

"Every student who has been waitlisted is having their audit reviewed and will be hearing from me soon," Selig said. "We are quickly adding courses to deal with the demand but no student should expect to take all the classes for their major in one semester."

Other areas of study at Emerson have had the same issues the VMA department has experienced.

Marketing Communication Chair Joann Montepare said the problems this year are nothing new.

"Students are always going to have some issues with schedules," Montepare said. "I have over-enrolled seven students and we [Marketing Communications] have over 400 major and minors."

Each major has different classes required for graduation in addition to the core classes usually completed in the first two years.

The number of credits needed varies depending on the type of degree sought. A Bachelor of Fine Arts degree (BFA) requires up to 20 more credit hours than a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA).

Because seniors get top priority during the registration period, sophomores and juniors often have the most difficulty. During freshmen year, students have their courses pre-selected.

There is no shortage of classes as Emerson offers 642 courses this semester with a total of 1,250 courses over the 2006-2007 school year, said Assistant Dean of Academic Advising Anne Doyle.

Leandro Caires, a senior film major, discussed the issue on the radio program "The Commons," broadcast on WECB last Thursday.

"There's a difference between the classes you need to take and you want to take," Caires said in an interview. "I wanted to broaden my knowledge, but it's difficult. I wanted to take acting or audio, but you have to decide between what you need and want."