Georgetown will transition to live registration this coming April, changing the way students sign up for classes. This shift from pre-registration to live registration is part of a larger technological upgrade intended to address the steep cost of maintaining and modernizing Georgetown’s current online platforms. This editorial board acknowledges that our current registration system is far from perfect and that the attention to financial concerns is appropriate. But the new system presents pressing issues by neglecting students who will be inconvenienced by their registration times, as well as making the whole process unnecessarily more stressful when course registration is one of the most important parts of academic life.
Georgetown defines live registration as a process that allows students to sign up for classes during a given time slot and immediately know their schedule for the following semester. This is similar to the current procedure for add/drop registration that runs after pre-registration results are released. While many other peer universities have switched to live registration, time constraints can prove stressful for students. The possibility of students getting locked out of required major courses is still a concern, despite the university’s efforts to reserve spots for majors and attempt to operate on a system of seniority. It also provides an extra hurdle for students studying abroad or juggling work or internships as well as classes; depending on the given time slot, it could be difficult and inconvenient for a student to sign up for classes—even though the university said course schedules would be released three weeks ahead of registration time to allow students to plan and visit their deans. Furthermore, this system assumes the availability of reliable Wi-Fi and a computer, to which not all students have access.
In 2016, a campus-wide referendum in response to the proposal of switching to live registration saw that an overwhelming majority of students preferred to keep pre-registration as it was. Under the current system, students may research classes and check in with deans and advisors as questions arise. Before they hit submit, students have weeks to mull over decisions and solve scheduling problems. Additionally, students currently receive a human look over their pre-registration choices, often by a dean or advisor. With live registration, the onus is on the students to plan in advance, predict for worst-case scenarios, and seek a pre-emptive human once-over. But once their time slot arrives, they are on their own.
Furthermore, students who are unable to meet their time slot due to Wi-Fi issues or obligations such as work, class, or travel must be assisted. It is unclear whether the university will provide accomodations, but even so, the sheer volume of students with these issues would make it difficult to accommodate everyone.
As with any system change, the university has a responsibility to ensure that all students are informed and guided through the new process. Georgetown will offer training for live registration, but students must make certain they equip themselves with as much knowledge as they can to ensure they get the classes they want or need. And Georgetown has a responsibility to seek and prioritize student feedback during this time.
The university did hold a round table on registration two years ago, and held another on Jan. 17. These are valuable steps in seeking student feedback, but student concerns must be taken seriously and solutions must be implemented as soon as possible. Signing up for classes is fundamental to Georgetown’s commitment to learning and enriching students’ lives, and therefore all students should have their concerns about access and anxiety duly addressed.