Communication can ensure students are ready to register

By Editorial Board

In previous semesters, undergraduate students were required to meet with a faculty advisor to be cleared to register. However, the college has partially eliminated that requirement for spring registration, as reported in our page 8 story. Freshman and transfer students are still required to meet with an advisor at the College Advising Center before they can register.

Most colleges and universities do not require advising sessions prior to registration for the following semester. Eliminating mandatory meetings is beneficial to students who, at times, can be hindered by unnecessary meetings and time constraints. In the past, some students lost out on classes because they were unable to meet with their advisor before registration opened. By the time these students were cleared for registration, some required classes were already full.

Registration has been a longstanding problem at Columbia. In the 2015 Graduating Student Survey, only 62 percent of students said they were able to register for classes without difficulties. Thirty-one percent of respondents said they did not complete their degree in four years—22 percent attributed it to registration and scheduling issues.

Conscientious students know what classes they need to graduate and which classes to register for each semester. For those who do not, it is true that obligatory meetings with a faculty advisor can ensure students are aware of their major’s requirements. However, a list of mandatory requirements that have not been completed can be communicated to students via other means without delays in class registration.

Resources beyond faculty advising exist. The mandatory college advising center appointment is an excellent way to familiarize students with available resources. For example, some might not know about the Advising Guide on Oasis, which outlines every class a student has taken, as well as each requirement that still needs to be fulfilled.

By eliminating the faculty advising requirement, it is no longer guaranteed that some students will ever meet with an advisor beyond their freshman year. However, collegians are adults and should be capable of taking responsibility for understanding their major’s requirements, as well as staying on track to graduate. A requirement mandated by the college should not be the sole motivation to meet with an advisor or to use the college’s other resources. However, by not making faculty advising a requirement, the college must take the initiative to properly communicate all resources available to students.

To ensure students are fully aware of the changes to the registration clearance, as well as other resources available, a collegewide email from Columbia’s higher-ups, rather than departmental announcements, would be helpful. Some departments did not clearly inform students that the advising requirement had been changed.

Faculty advising appointments are no longer compulsory, but students should still be encouraged to review their schedule with their faculty advisor after registration. More communication from the college to students about available  resources can help students stay on track and raise retention and graduation rates.