By Danyelle Roquemore
The traditional process of being able to register up until the start of class was revamped this semester as the college added zone registration and an earlier cut-off date.
The last day students could register for the full spring semester was Jan. 16, almost a week before classes started.
Many students and administrators were concerned after hearing the proposal for the earlier deadline, but the change ended up being successful in terms of effective scheduling and complete class rosters.
“I initially had a negative perspective on it; I didn’t think it was going to work well, and I was very concerned that we would lose enrollment,” said Dean Rachel Wolf of the Arts, Language and Literature division. “It was surprisingly easy. … I have never in my life had an easier [registration] period.”
With zone registration and the earlier cut-off date occurring simultaneously, Wolf saw a positive effect for administrators and students alike.
“The first few days of classes people weren’t coming late [and] we weren’t shifting people around,” she said. “We could do all of our administrative stuff earlier, which I think was better customer service to the students.”
The earlier deadline also allowed more time for students to fix their schedules and add or drop any classes prior to the start of the term.
“I think where I saw student success was that Thursday and Friday [before the first day of class] were not as chaotic for both the staff and the students,” said Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Student Success Michael Gutierrez. “Because it was more relaxed, I do believe that the students received better service during that time period.”
Though some students complained and said they were unaware of the change, others had no problems with the new deadline.
“Anybody who has eCampus should have known about it,” nursing student Stephanie Hamilton said. “It was all over eCampus.”
There were many late start, or flex term, classes that began on Feb. 4 to help compensate for the lower registration numbers in certain areas.
Gutierrez said administrators began planning for the zero week and the additional flex-term classes during the fall semester because they expected to have lower numbers in some areas where students have traditionally registered in the last days before the beginning of the semester.
“One area where we anticipated this the most was in music,” Gutierrez said. “For those disciplines it was a struggle because students have traditionally registered late, and they show up late and anticipate that they can still get in.”
Starting the flex term a week late in those areas allowed faculty to recruit and fill their class rosters.
Gutierrez hopes the earlier cut-off date will help prepare students for when they begin transferring.
“Many of our students will end up transferring to four-year colleges and universities where they do have application deadlines and registration deadlines that are even sooner than ours,” Gutierrez said. “It’s a good way for the students to practice what they’re going to see at the next level.”
The student success rate tied to the new process cannot be determined until sufficient data can be gathered and analyzed.
However, President Jean Conway said research shows that students who can meet earlier deadlines tend to succeed in their courses.
“Students that plan ahead a little bit better tend to stay with their classes, tend to be prepared to do the work better than students that come one day [before] or on the same day that classes start,” Conway said. “The philosophy is that students who know they have to register by a certain day, perhaps, will be more prepared to be successful in class.”