At UM, we feel lucky to count on a fairly comprehensive and easily available advising system. The goal for the University now, however, should be to find a level of consistency in advising across the Schools and Colleges.
Non-business students, for example, envy the School of Business for its effective peer counseling and academic advising program. Although all the schools employ academic advisors (and even peer counselors in some fields, like psychology and engineering), students often express their discontent with the hit-or-miss advising that may leave them taking useless classes and having to make up requirements unexpectedly over the summer.
As students, we assume part of the responsibility for our education and thus should take some of the blame for class problems if we haven’t taken the time to understand an ACE and look up the requirements for each major. However, we still need a little guidance, particularly for undecided students or those that want to change fields.
In effect, undecided students face the largest disadvantage when poorly advised. A student can fulfill his or her general education requirements in the first two years of college, hoping that one of those classes will be so interesting so as to pursue it as a major. Yet, what happens when the student remains undecided after two years of a general education?
Ideally, a student should go to an academic advisor to create a year-by-year class plan and then register online, avoiding the lines at the Office of the Registrar and other registration offices. The online registration system needs improvement to allow students to register for 18 credits if their advisors approve them, something that happens now but often malfunctions. It should also let students register for classes in a different school (an education student registering for a communication class, for instance) if they declared a double major or minor in that school.
The University should also eliminate the classes that appear “On Hold” on EASY. Students may register for an On Hold section that fits into their schedule beautifully only to find, a couple of weeks later, that the section has been cancelled. This might present a minor problem with electives, but with requirements, it creates a dilemma. Luckily, professors in some cases accommodate students by listening to their complaints and opening a section of the class, but the problem could be avoided entirely by not putting On Hold classes in the system. If a new section opens, a flyer can be posted in the registration office or an email can be sent out informing students of the new class.
In fact, the registration offices should overall use email more often. If a class gets cancelled, unexpectedly placed On Hold, or changes professors, students should be informed so as to avoid rude surprises the first day of the semester.
Classes that don’t list the professors’ name also pose a problem. Usually, students avoid registering for the “TBA” or “FACULTY” class until the rest of the named-professor classes fill up. However, if all the classes appear as TBA (see ECO 301 and almost all the lower-level MTH classes), students are left with no choice but to register to fill the requirements they need and hope for the best. A possible solution for these departments would be to list possible professors or display a date when the professor’s name will be available.
UM has made great strides in providing students with resources they need to choose classes. Until the University solves key problems that still exist, however, it will continue to hear students groaning on registration week.