USF looks for solutions in class registration

A shift in priority has left students pursuing their second bachelor’s degree near the bottom of the registration list and pushed transfer students closer to the top.

Some students seeking a second bachelor’s are upset about this semester’s change in status, which pushes their allowed registration date until after sophomores, said Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies Glen Besterfield.

Approximately 1,000 to 2,000 students are pursuing their second bachelor’s degree, Besterfield said.

The University encourages students to pursue a second bachelor’s degree, but not at the expense of students earning their first, Besterfield said.

“We have a moral obligation to the students we admit to get them their first bachelor’s degree,” he said. “Students pursuing second bachelor’s degrees were taking classes from them (because they registered first).”

University Registrar Angela Debose said students pursuing their second bachelor’s degree were also upset because they were not notified of the change because registration dates were assigned before the change was made.

“The appointment notice itself to inform students of the change did not go out, and that’s (our fault),” she said.

Despite concerns, enrollment for students pursuing a second bachelor’s degree increased 2 percent this year, Debose said.

The change in procedure moved up the registration dates for transfer students, who originally registered at the same time as freshmen, Debose said.

Transfer students now register with upperclassmen, depending on how many credits they earned at their former institution, she said.

Priority registration is not unique to USF. It exists to provide students involved on campus early registration to accommodate their needs and to give preference to students closest to graduation, she said.

Student athletes, students with disabilities, Honors College students and ROTC students have priority registration dates, Besterfield said.

Following priority-registration students, the order of registration for undergraduates is as follows: graduating seniors, continuing seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen pursuing a first bachelor’s degree. Number of credits also is a factor, Debose said.

Staggered appointment dates help with the capacity flow on Online Access Student Information System (OASIS), so the system does not crash, Debose said.

But Besterfield said that because of student complaints, increased enrollment and “other issues”

at the University, a committee of advisers was created in 2007 to develop a more efficient and fair registration queuing for students.

The committee began meeting again this semester, he said.

“There’s a lot of ways to do this, and you try to make it as fair as possible,” he said. “But in the end, someone has to go first and someone has to go last.”

The present system is not unfair, Debose said, but the committee will see if it’s in line with the institutional goals to assist students in graduating timely, she said.

“Students don’t have to stay here another semester and incur unnecessary expenses or debt, and the institution has a graduation rate that shows our advising processes are efficient,” she said.

The registration review committee was formed when members of Student Government (SG) and resident assistants requested priority registration “because they serve the University,” she said.

“(At that time,) we felt we had too many groups already getting registration priority and we needed to make sure we were responding to the student body at large,” she said.

During a meeting with Debose, Besterfield and members of SG last year, students said priority registration should be merit-based, an option the committe will consider when it meets, Debose said.

“Those students doing well would get registration priority. Some (universities) don’t just look at earned hours – they look at GPA when assigning appointments,” she said. “They tend to give students who appear academically strong higher priority in registration.”

If the committee chooses to change the registration policy, Debose said it will not be implemented until next spring or fall.

The committee will meet on Dec. 8 at 2 p.m. in the Student Services Building room 2080 to analyze the priority registration policy, she said.