The Right to Register: The Politics of Registration at PC

by The Cowl Editor on November 18, 2021


The Right to Register: The Politics of Registration at PC

Joe Kulesza ’22

Next to studying on a Friday night, waking up early is a close second when considering rare events in a typical college student’s life.

Very few things can get a college student out of bed, and sometimes this does not even include the need to go to class. If age is just a number, then so too is the time on a clock, as college students are happy to disregard the significance of certain numbers on their clock if they happen to be  followed by “A.M.” 

But, as with every rule, there is an exception to this consideration, and this exception manifests itself in the form of class registration.

Having the potential to evoke feelings of hope, exuberant joy, or despondent misery, class registration is an emotional roller-coaster of an event occurring biannually for every college student, and this event’s ability to get college students out of bed is positively unparalleled.

On no other day of the academic year do entire droves of students wake up at the previously unthinkable hour of 6:30 A.M., as they sit in front of their computers, login to Cyberfriar, and frantically hit the refresh button in the seconds leading up to registration.

In the moments following this process, students await their fate for the next semester, as they will soon find out how many of the classes they got into. Lucky students will get all five classes, while the unfortunate ones will be cast back to the schedule planning page, where they feverishly search for empty seats in other classes.

And for those students where fate has truly dealt a fatal blow, an error message will appear, resulting from an incorrect PIN, conflicting class schedules, or a multitude of other issues.

Last week, every student in the senior class was a victim of this registration horror, as error messages were plastered over laptop screens.

Satire aside, this instance, while it was resolved within a reasonable amount of time, begs questions about the functionality of the registration process as a whole. It seems ironic that colleges require students to take certain courses, while they simultaneously use systems which are not conducive to many students registering for those courses.

In no type of successful economy does a situation exist where suppliers consistently advertise a service, only to later fall short in accommodating that service’s demand. Economies that do not result in the proper allocation of goods are considered failed systems, and it does not seem to be a stretch extrapolating this understanding to the registration system which consistently results in students not getting classes they need to take.

A failed registration system not only hurts students, but hurts the College as well. Students who do not get the courses they need, or the courses they want, end up defaulting to enroll in courses in which they have no desire. A lack of interest in course work inevitably results in a lack of effort on the student’s behalf.

Winston Churchill famously said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others, and perhaps if he were a student at PC, he would say something similar about the registration system.

It is unfair to say that PC’s registration system is a total failure, as this system has reasonably allowed students to take the majority of the classes they need over their time spent on this campus, granted there are frequent issues.

But even with taking this under consideration, registration is part of a $70,000 service that students are paying for, and in relation to price, registration at PC is like manual roll up windows on a luxury sports car.

If colleges are going to continue raising tuition at rates which have been consistently twice as high as concurrent inflation rates, then it is not unreasonable for students to be frustrated when they do not get into required classes for which they pay tuition.

Like democracy, course registration is not perfect, but this is not sufficient reason to be complacent about changing it.