Current spring registration shows drop, college says it is not ‘alarming’

By Andrea Salcedo, Campus Editor

According to the most recent Spring 2017 Semester registration report, 601 fewer total students registered for classes when compared with numbers for the Spring 2016 Semester.

The unofficial figures, published on the college’s IRIS website under the administration and registration reports, indicate 558 fewer undergraduate students and 43 fewer graduate students have registered for classes as of Nov. 28. While the official enrollment will not be final until the end of the add/drop period in the Spring 2017 Semester, registration has been available to students since Nov. 7.

According to the Fall 2016 Semester registration report published within the college’s IRIS website under the administration and registration reports, 789 undergraduate students did not register. The figures also reflect a drop of 44 graduate students who did not register, totaling 832 students.

The departments most affected by the current  registration drop include the Design Department, with 155 fewer students registered than last year; the Fashion Studies Department, with a drop of 110 registrations; and the Business & Entrepreneurship Department, with 65 fewer registrations. All are departments within the college’s School of Fine & Performing Arts.

Other departments saw a slight increase in student registration. The Cinema Art + Science Department gained 66 registrations, the Theatre Department picked up 28 and the American Sign Language-English Interpretation Department added 12 registrations, compared with numbers from Spring 2016.

Registrar  Keri Walters said she would attribute the low registration to the 9.4 percent enrollment drop the college experienced this year, as reported Oct. 3 by The Chronicle. Walters added that the most recent report does not reflect the re-registration rate of continuing students, which is consistent with the rate of Fall and Spring 2016 Semesters.

“There really isn’t a drop,” Walters said.  “Of the students who are eligible to register, they’re registering at a slightly higher rate than they were last year.”

Walters added that she was unable to provide figures to The Chronicle that could confirm the slight increase because the college has yet to publish the data.

Walters said these undisclosed numbers reflect a slightly higher re-registration rate at the undergraduate level as compared with last year’s. She added that the drop in  graduate students’ registration figures can be attributed to their being less motivated to register quickly for classes because they know space is available in their courses.

Walters said there are fewer students with financial holds when compared with last year, but was also unable to provide exact figures because  the college also has not published this information.

John Barajas, junior interactive arts & media major, said he had financial holds that have impeded him from registering for classes for three consecutive years.

“This year, [Student Financial Services] lost my bank information,” Barajas said.

Barajas, who has still not registered for classes because of the hold, said all of his major classes no longer have available seats, which made him delay registration.

“What’s the point if my classes are already taken?” Barajas said.

Barajas said although he feels discouraged, he expects to be cleared as soon as he submits the requisite paperwork, but he is considering taking general courses at a community college if he is unable to find seats in classes for his major.

“It’s really frustrating because I already have to stay in school and figure everything out,” Barajas said. “This is a slap in the face. Do you still want me to be here? Why am I struggling so much to be in classes if there’s a chance that I can’t even be in it because [Student Financial Services] messes up on getting information or messing up with our documents?”

According to a Dec. 8 email college spokeswoman Anjali Julka sent to The Chronicle, SFS stated students are able to register for the Spring 2017 Semester, despite the absence of Monetary Award Program grants.

The Chronicle requested an interview with  Cynthia Grunden, assistant vice president of Student Financial Services, but she was not made available by  the college News Office.

“If a student pays his or her Fall term balance down to the amount of the MAP Grant for Fall, the student is cleared to register and allowed to pay the difference during Spring term,” the email stated.

Walters said her office expected the most recent registration figures to increase.

“Where we are at this point in time is where we would expect to be,” Walters said. “It looks alarming when you look at the wrong numbers, but when you actually look at the rate of re-registration considering who’s here now, who’s eligible to register and who’s not graduating in the end of the Fall, the rate is a little bit higher than last year. It’s looking pretty good.”

Despite registering for classes, sophomore business & entrepreneurship  major Michael Iuliano will not be returning for classes next semester  because of job opportunities in the music industry, he said. Iuliano added that the cost of attending Columbia and the recent tuition increase  also played a role in his decision to leave the college.

Although Iuliano praised the connections and the exposure to the industry he has gained by attending Columbia, he said the curriculum left him wanting more.

“A lot of the time in the classroom, I am not learning as much as I should be,” Iuliano said. “That is what I took away from Columbia.”

Walters remained optimistic and added that registration numbers will “definitely” increase by the start of Spring 2017 Semester;  however, she was unable to predict by how much.

Walters added that students with holds will continue to be cleared for registration until Jan. 28, 2017.

“We will expect to be clearing holds on that day because that’s historically what has happened,” Walters said. “We’re not done registering students yet for sure.”