Eric Walker

Equinox Staff


With fears of a lack of intro-level seats for underclassmen in mind, Keene State College has officially changed its registration policy to grant current freshmen the earliest selection times starting with this month’s fall registration.

In the past seniors received first pick, followed by juniors, sophomores, and ending with freshmen. However, the system won’t be completely turned on its head; seniors will go second, after the freshmen, followed by juniors and then sophomores.

emma contic / graphics editor

emma contic / graphics editor

Registrar Tom Richard, who’s been with the college for 33 years, said he had been pushing for the change for a very long time. “I’ve been registrar for eight years. I’d suggested it the day I came in,” he said. “We rarely have things like this happen. It’s so often these things–whether you’re working with the student body or whether you’re working with a faculty group to change certain things–it’s like trying to move Mt. Monadnock. Everybody has their own agenda. It’s extremely difficult to get people on the same page, and typically a fairly small minority of people who are opposed tend to be effective more often than not in stopping these kinds of changes.”

Richard, who was also formerly the Head of Academic and Career Advising, explained that about a quarter of 100 and 200-level ISP courses are taken by upperclassmen, which is problematic when the seats fill up and freshmen who need those courses to move on in their studies can’t get a spot.

Many courses require prerequisites or require admission to the major, both of which narrow the pool of classes available to freshmen.

Richard said if they are snubbed from those seats by upperclassmen (who have the ability to choose from other higher-level courses with open spots) then the freshmen continuously have to try to play catch up through the rest of their college career.  He said he hopes the new policy will change the current situation of over-enrolled lower-level courses and under-enrolled upper-level courses.

Film major Eddie Harris said, “I guess it makes sense seeing that freshmen can only take those intro level classes … it’s logical.”

Richard said he believes the complication played a role in the first to second year retention rate decline the college has seen over the past several years. Unfortunately the problem of over-enrolled intro-level courses can’t simply be solved by adding more of those sections because due to budgetary restrictions the college simply doesn’t have the funds to support the extra class sections.

Richard clarified that although the passage of the policy was influenced by the economic circumstances, he views this policy as a common sense approach that works better than the old system no matter how much money the college has at their disposal.

Although Richard said he thinks this approach is sensible, he acknowledges the policy may have its critics. “I anticipate that the most concern will come from the sophomores, and I think that would be where the concern would be most legitimate.”

However, despite the fact that sophomores are registering last among current students doesn’t mean they are actually registering last. When “freshmen” register, that means currently -enrolled freshmen, not incoming freshmen. First-year students who have yet to attend Keene State College, including transfers, will register in May and June, after all current students take their picks in March and April.

Sophomore Victoria Richards said it’s mildly unfortunate for her that she will have a later registration time, but said she can understand why freshmen need access to those courses.

Richard also pointed out the vast majority of students in the second class to register – the seniors – will not be registering at all. “That senior class is kind of a paper tiger because so many of them are graduating. The numbers are much smaller in the spring looking forward to the fall, so the junior class even though it looks like they’re going third, they’re really going second in terms of real numbers. The sophomores who feel like they’re going last are not, they’re going ahead of 1,200 new students who aren’t here on campus yet. Sometimes you forget that,” Richard stated.

Although upperclassmen would now have a harder time securing a spot in an intro-level course, they will still have the opportunity to add a class that’s filled up with an instructor’s signature if the course is necessary for a timely graduation.

Sophomore John Elliott said he ran into issues with courses that had reached capacity while trying to register for intro-level chemistry classes after switching his major from music. “It was kind of scary,” he said. However with the help of professors signing add slips, he was able to register for three courses that had no vacant seats.

Although there has been no campus wide announcement as of yet, Richard says he will meet with Provost Melinda Treadwell in the coming days to discuss their approach to formally notify all students. Registration for Fall 2013 classes is slated for March 25, and official schedule for Fall courses is now available.


Eric Walker can be contacted at

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