Registration brings worry and waitlists for App State students

Ansley Puckett, Reporter

A freshman sits anxiously at her computer as she waits for her registration time to begin. When the clock hits 8 a.m, she furiously types her class CRNs into AppalNet and hopes that she gets into the classes she needs. These aren’t the classes she initially wanted, but it’s the classes she had to take after the first ones closed.

For Shannon Pendleton, a freshman journalism major, this was the reality of registering.

After registration for the spring 2020 semester ended Nov. 14, many students found themselves in Pendleton’s shoes. Other students found themselves waitlisted for classes required for graduation.

Pendleton said the classes she finally got into were not the classes she and her adviser planned for her to take.

“The classes that I planned on taking with my adviser, half of them were full, so two days before I could register, I had to make a new schedule,” Pendleton said. “Then the night before, I also went back and checked, and two of the classes I had already had to change were also full.”

Pendleton said this process kept her from staying on her planned graduation track.

“I ended up having to take classes that I didn’t plan on taking until later on,” Pendleton said.

Megan Hayes, associate vice chancellor and chief communications officer, wrote in an email that course availability data does not support the idea that section availability is low. 

In some larger departments there is more demand and there are more students waitlisted,” Hayes wrote. “Decisions about the number of sections, number of seats in each section and courses offered each semester are made by department chairs and approved by the Deans of the respective colleges.”

Hayes wrote that the number of sections for each class are “informed by class seat analytics,” and based on demand and faculty availability, “departments typically open up courses or add seats.”

Kyle McFarland, a 2015 App State alumnus said there is a history of students struggling to get into required classes.

“I definitely had to wait on two different classes I needed,” McFarland said. “I had to put off my plans for another year almost because I had to restructure my schedule.”

McFarland said the difficulties he experienced getting into the classes he needed caused him to stay an extra year and a half at App State.

“I was supposed to graduate in May 2014, but ended up graduating in December 2015,” McFarland said. “Two of those three extra semesters were on me, but at least one semester was because I could not get into the courses I needed.”

Hayes wrote that the 4-year graduation rate is currently “the highest on record” and that data supports the idea that essential classes like capstones and prerequisites are “overall becoming more- rather than less- available” to students.

However, news of an enrollment increase for 2020 has students concerned that getting into their required classes will become even harder.

“It’s probably going to be harder to get into classes that you actually need, especially because a lot of freshmen already come in with hours,” Pendleton said.

According to Hayes, the university has been preparing for this increase as enrollment has grown and that course needs of new and continuing students are a “constant theme and a priority” for groups across campus. 

“While each student’s experience with registration is different, it is important to note that nearly 60% of the enrollment growth for 2020 is projected for online and satellite locations,” Hayes wrote.