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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.