The Cougar Chronicle

Illustration by Micaela Johansson

Illustration by Micaela Johansson

Jadan Smither, Assistant News Editor

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As registration for fall 2018 begins, frustrations about class availability for some students grow. In response, CSUSM is making adjustments to the registration process.

Vice Provost Dr. Kamel Haddad said that starting with registration for this fall, students who are closer to graduation will have a higher priority for classes. In addition, freshmen students will have more instruction on how to use the online and interactive Degree Planner more efficiently, Dr. Haddad said.

The CSUSM Degree Planner is a program that was implemented two years ago to solve class availability issues and meet a CSU-wide initiative to streamline graduation rates.
In those two years, data collected from the Degree Planner program has shown that more students are using it each semester and their schedules are matching their requirements at a higher rate, Dr. Haddad said.

“Before we started doing any of this, the number of students whose schedule matched exactly what the roadmap said they needed in the entire university was 45 students,” he said. “Right now we’re upwards of 2,100 that match exactly what the roadmap says. And every semester we’ve improved on that measure.”

According to a press release from the Office of Communications, the university has enrolled almost 17,000 last fall. “If a class is not available,
not because the Degree Planner is bad, it’s some- thing else that happened,” Dr. Haddad said.

Many factors can contribute to limited class availability. One is that students often wait to send community college transcripts to CSUSM for classes they’ve completed and no longer need. This skews the Degree Planner data that identifies student needs, Dr. Haddad said.

Students also sometimes change their minds and register for classes not listed in their Degree Planners. Students may do this to avoid conflicts with class times, to pick instructors or to take classes with their friends, he said.

“Every time [students] change their mind, they’re taking a seat that they said they didn’t want and they’re taking that seat away from someone who said they wanted it,” Dr. Haddad said.

“Sometimes the student is also dissatisfied because even though the class or the seat is available, it’s available at a time that does not suit them, but there’s not much we can do about that because we have space capacity issues,” Dr. Haddad  said. “We can’t put all of our classes on Tuesday and Thursday” between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., he said. “The student response [to Degree Planner] in general is favorable,” he said.

However, some faculty feel that their majors have suffered from the new Degree Planner program. Chairman of the Political Science Department Dr. Stephen Nichols said, “It just seems to me that our allocations have been cut in Political Science. For this last fall semester, I had to go to the Dean’s office and really lobby to be able to offer one elective course in political theory; and political theory is one of four areas in Political Science that students have to take courses in to graduate.”

Nichols said that because of the Degree Planner system, there is not much flexibility for him to offer more or less upper and lower division sections based on the needs of the students. “I think part of it is we’re still in the transition of getting used to using it. I imagine that in a few years from now, everybody will be using it and maybe these problems will go away,” Dr. Nichols said.

Dr. Haddad also said he believes that when every student at CSUSM is familiar with the Degree Planner program, registration will run more smoothly. “Change is always difficult…when we go through a state of change where we’re doing things a little bit differently than the way we used to do it before,” Dr. Haddad said.

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