“Registration is the thing everyone loves to hate,” said Columbia’s Registrar Marvin Cohen. There is no designated place for registration to occur and open registration can feel like a cattle-call. That is why, approximately four years ago, Columbia implemented Early Registration for continuing students.
“Early Registration was designed to meet the needs and desires of the students to make registration easier,” said Cohen. This process gives students an opportunity to sign up for classes during the preceding semester. According to Cohen, “Students like early registration. It is so much simpler than making a special trip to school to do so.”
Students must make an appointment with their faculty adviser in order to register. Once the student and the adviser have selected the appropriate classes, the student is then required to visit the Bursar’s office to sign their financial contract. That’s it — a simple two step process.
Early registration solves many problems of the past registration process. It makes it easier for out-of-town students: no longer do they need to make a special trip back to Columbia to stand in a long line snaking down several flights of stairs. It also aids the faculty in determining whether or not there is a need to cancel or add classes due to demand.
There are many advantages to the early registration process. Not only do students get first access to available classes, they can also change their schedule prior to add/drop week.
Columbia’s faculty advisers also prefer early registration. Each is equipped with their own computer to access class information. Cohen said, “Faculty members like to stay in their office and enjoy a one-on-one experience with the students. It also gives them the opportunity to get other work done between students.” In addition, a help desk is open at the Registrar’s office to help faculty with any problems or questions during the registration process.
Another advantage of early registration is the faculty adviser’s ability to register students for any class, not just classes in their department. Years ago, students had to visit each department for individual classes but early registration has eliminated that need.
Cohen assures that as Columbia advances technologically, the registration process may change. Future possibilities include phone registration along with internet access. One or both are possibilities as Columbia continues to experience record growth in student population. But for the immediate future, early registration is a student’s best chance to make the registration process as painless as possible.
Columbia is not too eager to advance to either internet or phone registration. According to Cohen, “Columbia feels that, being a communication and arts school, it is important to encourage contact between students and faculty. We want the personal touch.” Cohen said that students would probably not want to speak with a computer when they could connect with a real person.
Last year, according to Cohen, approximately 3,500 students took advantage of early registration. Of these students, only 77 did not sign their contract with the Bursar’s office and were deleted from class schedules. Some simply did not return to Columbia to continue their education; others complained that they were not aware they had to sign a contract even though they were notified at least three times by mail. Cohen assured that this is not a major problem in early registration.
In fact, Cohen said, “The response to early registration is overwhelmingly positive. As long as students stay on top of their business, it is done smoothly.” So smoothly that Columbia was able to schedule only two weeks this semester for early registration as opposed to three weeks last semester. Early Registration will take place from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.