A student using a laptop computer. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Registration should be based on a projected graduation year, not a credit amount. When students are able to register according to their credit hours and not their projected graduation dates, some are unfairly disadvantaged. 

According to the pre-registration schedule sent out by the registrar’s office, “Pre-registration priority is based on class level, calculated for this event only by combining completed credit hours and in-progress credit hours for the current semester. Seniors pre-register first, then juniors, and so on.”

In reality, credit hours do not always represent class level, which this process of registration fails to take into account. As the registrar’s statement indicates, registration is the only event where class standing is determined by credit. For instance, students applying for off-campus housing permission submit their Hillsdale College credits, not transfer credits. This helps give a more accurate picture of a student’s class standing.

It is common for students to come to Hillsdale with some credit already on their transcripts thanks to high scores on AP tests or community college classes. Some students may transfer in credits with the intention of graduating in less than four years. Many do not.

If an ambitious junior finds himself with 90 credits completed after the Fall semester, he can register as a senior. While the student may appreciate the advantage, when too many students register ahead of their actual class standing, other students are negatively affected. In this example, fellow juniors who have fewer than 90 credits now have to wait for both seniors and a few juniors to register before they get the chance. Thus, some students have a smaller chance of registering for classes that may not be offered again before they graduate. They are competing against more people than they should be.

The playing field needs to be even. Students should be allowed to register based on graduation year, instead of having students essentially receiving priority registration because of their pre-college experiences. 

The process does not have to be complicated. Before registering, students can work with their advisers to determine a reasonable graduation year. If this number changes — for instance, if a student commits to graduating early — this year can easily be adjusted in the mandatory pre-registration meeting. When it comes time to register for classes, students would register based on their actual years, not their credits.

This way, freshmen register with freshmen, sophomores with sophomores, juniors with juniors, and no one who will graduate in four years gets to be a senior for more than a year. This is not only fair to students who fit the technical definition of their years, but it also advantages real seniors, who would not have to compete against juniors to get classes they only have a semester or two to take.

Registration should be a fair process. Having students register according to their real years in school would help.