From the Editors: Scheduling stress

With the semester starting to wind down, students are beginning to stress about prepping for finals and finishing term papers. For some this spring, scheduling for next year has been stressful as well.
The scheduling process, for some students, has been smooth. Being able to check course availability and register online is a significant plus. However, there have been several discrepancies with the scheduling process affecting individuals from different majors. These issues range from class restrictions and timing to the advisers and greenlighting process.
Before students can actually get their schedules, they need to meet with their advisers to get greenlighted. As an academic adviser, each professor has a responsibility to offer advisees information about classes and how they should try to form their schedules. Not all professors take this responsibility seriously, however. In some cases, professors simply greenlight all their advisees without actually seeing them. In other cases, advisers fail to set up schedules for meetings, causing students to scramble to get greenlighted last minute, or even after the time they are allowed to schedule classes.
Students who have different advisers for their majors and minors also face problems because separate advisers can make conflicting suggestions, or only focus on the individual major or minor, rather than considering the big picture. Students with a double major should seek out and speak to each adviser, whereas students with a major and minor should only be required to speak with their adviser for their major, as their major is more important. If students have questions about their minor, it should be their responsibility to seek out their minor adviser, not a requirement.
Another issue that arises from scheduling is the confusing list of restrictions that appear in the online course roster. Consider the following list for a math course:
| ONLY Biochemistry & Biology & Behavioral Neuroscience & Biopsychology & Chemistry & Enviromental Geology & Geosciences & Undecided Science & Integrated Sciences & Math & Liberal Studies – Marine Ecol & Liberal Studies – Environment & Marine Sciences & Nondegree – Biology & Physics | ONLY Undergraduate
When listed in a long, narrow column in the online roster, this becomes complicated to navigate for both professors and students.
Transfer students also face several issues when it comes to scheduling. When some credits transfer over from other institutions, they can count as advanced level courses. For instance, one student took a class that transferred to Rider as an advanced news writing course. Because of this, the student did not have to take the introductory news writing class, but the registration system did not realize this and he was unable to sign up for any classes that required the intro course as a prerequisite.
A big part of the confusion comes from the fact that the messages students get from the computer system when registration does not go through are uninformative and misleading. For example, one student who was blocked from a class because it was restricted to freshmen repeatedly got a message asking for a user ID and PIN number, instead of a message clearly stating the problem.
Several suggestions can help alleviate the stress of scheduling. First, advisers should take their job seriously. Information sessions could be held to help professors keep up with the latest variations in the system. In terms of scheduling, those in the Communication and Journalism Department that use the online appointment system have provided better results, and it’s open to all faculty on both campuses. More professors should be instructed in its use.
Even better would be improvements to the interface, especially to the way the restrictions are listed. Perhaps courses with complex restrictions could have a pop-up message when moused over, eliminating the abbreviations and putting the reason into a coherent sentence. Improvements in the error messages that students get when there are problems with registering would also be extremely helpful.
Another problem is faced by commuting students, who struggle to find courses that fit into their commuting schedule. There seems to be a pattern that teachers follow when it comes to the times they offer their courses. A search on the fall 2015 list of courses shows 92 sections during F period, Tuesday and Thursday, beginning at 9:45 a.m., while there are only 48 on Tuesday night, including graduate courses. Similarly, there are 109 sections during G period, Monday and Wednesday beginning at 1:10, while on Monday night there are only 38. There are only 26 sections in A period, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, 8-9 a.m.
Solutions to these imbalances could be a more even distribution of times in every department and giving commuters the opportunity to schedule earlier than residents. The system of scheduling based off of credits works well and should stay; however, commuter students with the required amount of credits should be able to choose their schedules hours before residents with the same amount of credits.
By making these few changes to the technology and scheduling process, we could help alleviate the stress of course selection.

The weekly editorial expresses the
majority opinion of The Rider News.
This week’s editorial was written by the contributing writer, Eric Gregorich.

 

Printed in the 04/01/15 issue.

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