Thursday, April 12, 2012

Waitlist no more: Student Services to transition into fully electronic registration

By Amelia Heath, News Editor

PLU students will no longer be able to rely on the waitlist system when scheduling t h e i r classes.

The Registrar’s Office announced in an email April 2 that Student Services will begin to transition away from waitlisting during the next two registration cycles.

Registrar Kristin Plaehn said the waitlist process, which she described as “more manual than it needed to be,” is not a good use of time for students or Student Services.

“You fill out the form, it’s a manual form you take to student services,” Plaehn explained. “They [student services] manually enter all this stuff in and then it comes to our office and we manually check it every couple of days and then send you a manual email, we wait for you to email back.” The time spent on this process, Plaehn said, “can be better spent helping students actually get into classes.”

Plaehn added that students often use the waitlist system as a “marker” for classes they want and do not register for other classes in the meantime, which can cause problems with financial aid.

Pacific Lutheran University is the only private university in Washington state that uses a waitlist program.

To determine how to approach the waitlist problem, the Registrar’s Office and Student Services talked with ASPLU and researched how many students used the waitlist and how many of those students actually got into the classes they waitlisted. According to Plaehn, 126 students waitlisted classes for the fall 2011 term. Of those students, Plaehn said, only those who were at the top of the list or, sometimes, second from the top were placed in the classes they wanted.

Students will still be able to use the waitlist for religion and science classes, but only two spots will be available on the waitlist for each class.

Depending on the rules in each department, faculty will still be allowed to sign students in after a class has closed. However, Plaehn encouraged faculty to let the “natural registration ebb and flow get through a little bit before they start doing that” because if other students drop the class, the student may be able to register on his or her own.

Plaehn said the goal for the upcoming years is to encourage students to better plan their upcoming semester. By the beginning of next year, Student Services will have advising guides available for each division’s major and minor programs.

Students can also use CAPP and the What If function on Banner to plan out their schedules.

“It does put a little more responsibility on the student,” Plaehn said, “but I think most of our students are perfectly capable, especially with everything that’s available on the web now. I mean, you can do it from your phone.”