Student Life Editor
When it comes to course selection, students and faculty alike find themselves caught up in the chaos, though there are key ways for students to keep their head on straight and manage to secure the course schedule they need.
According to Tom Richard, the registrar, the first hurdle in the course selection process is for students to actually find out when they’re set to register for classes.
“We will e-mail your registration dates and e-mails,” Richard said, adding, “We’ll get scores of them that bounce back because their MyKSC accounts are full.”
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Richard said in addition to the e-mails, students can look up their own registration time by going to the MyKSC Home tab in their account and using the “When am I eligible to register?” link under the Campus Bookmarks tab.
Richard also emphasized the importance of registering on time. Many students miss their dates or figure they can just use Add/Drop forms to add classes later on.
“Register for the spring when you’re supposed to register for spring,” Richard said. “Seniors are notorious for that. If we get 55 percent of the seniors to register, that’s good.”
When classes have little or no enrollment at the end of the registration period, the class is cut. During the current economic hardships that the college is facing, Richard said the college will be more likely to cut classes even faster than in the past, so students planning on adding classes after the fact may find the class isn’t available anymore.
Pam Backes, the associate director of academic and career advising, also pointed out that while some students don’t register on time, others are registering for five classes with the intent of dropping one before the end of the Add/Drop period.
“It’s hard when people don’t take a good citizenship role in registration,” Backes said, noting that this scheduling behavior creates a “me mentality.”
When students register for extra classes which they intend to drop, they tie up a seat, which another student may need in order to complete her or his major. By “test-driving” courses and deciding which is the worst, Backes claims classes, like labs with low maximum-student numbers, become nearly impossible to get into.
But registering on-time and only for classes one intends to stick with are not the only issues KSC students tend to have during course selection; many are unaware of what they should be taking and when.
“The most important thing that I think with students is run Program Evaluation and see what you still need,” Backes said. “It is the absolute bottom line.”
Program Evaluation is a tool on students’ MyKSC accounts which allows a student to select a major and determine what courses have been completed, which are in progress, and which the student must still take in order to complete the major.
“It seems to us that students are in fact more and more familiar with it,” Richard said. “But then again, some students don’t.”
Sophomore Dan Ciccarello, a music education major, is vaguely familiar with Program Evaluation, though he usually goes to his adviser.
“I’ll talk with him mainly about the ISP courses,” Chiccarello said, adding that music education classes are mostly straightforward about what students must take.
Program evaluation allows students to look at the courses they’ve already taken at any time on their own. It allows them to be independent and proactive from day one on campus.
“Program Evaluation is one of the best tools you have. You don’t have to wait until you’re a senior,” Richard said. “This is a tool that they can start using as a first-year student so they can plan as they go.”
While both Richard and Backes note the importance of receiving advising and working closely with someone in the department, they understand that students don’t always do so. Program Evaluation is a way for the student to be able to determine, before it’s their last semester senior year, whether or not they’re on track to graduate.
“We operate on the assumption the student won’t get advising,” Richard said.
The Academic and Career Advising office allows walk-in students, but they encourage students to find faculty in their department to work with, although Backes notes it’s difficult because some students don’t know all of the faculty in their department.
“They are much more skilled in advising in their major than we could ever be,” Backes said.
In addition to the expertise that department faculty can provide on individual majors, each adviser in the Academic and Career Advising office serves as an adviser for undeclared students, meaning the office is packed leading up to course selection.
Sophomore Sarah Gelotte is undecided on her major, and has received help from Academic and Career Advising. Her adviser has pointed her in the right direction as far as scheduling her ISP classes.
“I’ve met with her a few times,” Gelotte said, though admitting she can’t remember her adviser’s name.
Pat Holloran, the director of academic and career advising, is working to create programs which will help underclassmen while they figure out the course selection process and determine their majors.
“We encourage students to drop by between classes to ask questions and get answers from our professional advising staff as well as our Peer Advisors,” Halloran said. “In addition, I am working closely with Residential Life professional staff Nate Gordon and Casey Wilson to arrange course registration advising sessions in the first-year residence halls.”
Ultimately, the biggest thing students can do to ensure they’re on track to graduate is take responsibility and ask questions when they need help.
“You’re citizens of a new planet, you have to learn the language and rules,” Backes said. “Students really need to take ownership.”
Many students don’t seek advising and don’t use Program Evaluation, and find out during their senior year they’re missing classes which they need to graduate.
This can keep them an extra semester, especially when dealing with courses that are only offered certain semesters.
By planning early and ahead, students can avoid the confusion and possibility of graduating late.
“We have a lot of walk-in seniors,” Backes said. “It’s really hard to have so many upperclassmen so unaware of what they’re doing.”
Allie Bedell can be contacted at email@example.com