Class Registration, An Academic Hierarchy

Photo Courtesy of Delphine  Burns
Photo Courtesy of Delphine Burns

by Kai McDaniel 

Staff Reporter

Who knew there was an academic hierarchy within Pitzer College? There is a hierarchical system and it is registering for classes. As a first year student, it has been incredibly hard to pick classes, and I am not the only one. Last semester I was fortunate enough to have a time slot early in the morning, yet I was still picking through the leftovers of the upperclassmen. Picking classes for this spring semester was much worse, as all the students were let out of the gates at the same time before winter break. Seniors had their day, the first day; juniors had the second day, sophomores had the third day, and the first years had the fourth and last day. As these days went by, first years saw the classes that they wanted fill up to the brim. As my 1:30 pm time slot rolled around, and I stressed over getting any classes, my enthusiasm about getting classes that I wanted vanished. It was all about filling up a schedule. Thus, I wondered why registering has to be such a hassle as a first year student. I relayed this thought to other first years and they shared and expanded on this issue. We shared the thought when we applied, were admitted, and subsequently packed up and moved to Pitzer that by paying top dollar to go to a private school, we could at least get the classes we wanted.

First year student, Hana Oshita commented that picking classes “was frustrating because there would be these classes where the teacher only had one class. There are like ten people in that class, and the teacher only teaches that class and then is done with their day. It would make more sense if the teacher had another class on another day, instead of having a huge waiting list for one class.”

Her comment highlights how there are classes in high demand yet access becomes quickly limited when there is a restriction on how many students can get in. Here is where classes that far exceed ten students become quickly desirable.

It seems a class’s popularity plus high amount of perms does not equal multiple classes in that subject at Pitzer. First year student, Jessica Saint-Fleur, also weighed in on this issue of access.

“When people figure out who is the best professor, then everyone wants to get into that one class, even if you had that professor last semester, you still end up in situation where you can’t get into the class that you want because you don’t have priority,” Saint-Fleur said.

This lack of priority seems to have a ripple effect especially when worthwhile classes often have course prerequisites that include an introductory course and/or a perm. Thus, how can you get a course prerequisite when it is hard to get an introductory class as a first year? The ripple effect is that since a student can’t get an introductory class, they try to take it as an upperclassmen, thereby limiting the space for first year students, and continuing the cycle.

It is crucial for students to get the classes that they need, and so a certain order is necessary. Yet improvements to the registration system at Pitzer can still be made. The prevailing idea that horrible registration as a first year is a given is unacceptable. Other colleges in this consortium give their students priority by allowing only their students to get in and perm requests from students of other colleges. Pitzer should adopt such a policy so that students overall have a better chance of getting classes that are in high demand at our own school. Pitzer shouldn’t stop there because other factors, such as time slots, holds on student accounts, and much more, contribute to this academic hierarchy and deserve to be checked.

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