Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Closed classes snag students

The University of Wisconsin offers approximately 4,500 courses. Each semester UW students battle the Internet registration system for access to their desired classes.

Currently, more than 18,000 sections are available to students, though that number will decrease as registration ends.

UW has a library of student “close-outs” intended to determine whether sections should be opened or closed, but Internet registration has made this information less reliable, Associate Dean Nancy Westphal-Johnson said.


“Students may see something is not open on the timetable, so they don’t even try to register for it,” Westphal-Johnson said. “The query, therefore, underestimates the number of people who may want to register for a course.”

Becky Ryan, a Cross College adviser, said this has been one of the better years for class registration. She added most freshmen registered without problems at Student Orientation, Advising and Registration.

“I have a theory that sophomores have the hardest time because they’re still relatively new, but they’re starting to narrow down their interests,” Ryan said. “Upperclassmen tend to register for more classes than they intend to take and then make decisions about which courses to keep in the first week of school.”

Over-registration prevents underclassmen from obtaining seats in some courses. In some UW programs — such as engineering — students are required to follow a course flow chart. Students’ inability to register for certain courses in the beginning of the sequence could delay their completion of the program.

UW Associate Dean Victor Macaruso said students’ powerlessness to register for pre-requisite courses can influence the amount of time it takes for them to graduate. He noted a UW plan does exist that ensures incoming freshmen would graduate in four years.

Macaruso said if freshmen meet with an academic advisor, attend orientation specific to their majors, attend SOAR and go to a workshop to map out their four-year plans, UW guarantees they will graduate on time.

Freshmen must register for courses within 48 hours of their assigned registration time. If they cannot get into the classes of their choice, they must contact UW administrators, who will make sure the student fills an equivalent requirement.

If a student follows these steps and cannot meet graduation requirements within four years, UW will cover the extra tuition cost. This plan has been in effect since 1997, Macaruso noted.

If graduating late is not an option, some students gear their interests toward a different program.

“Since there are so many graduation requirements, it’s really important for students to be able to enroll in necessary courses,” UW sophomore Katy Lazar said. “I need to graduate on time, and registration barriers could be a problem. I’ve gotten into a few classes that were closed on the timetable by e-mailing professors.”

Closed courses are not only a problem for freshmen. Fifth-year student Lucy Pinkwater only needs one more class to graduate, and that class is closed.

“I’m going to talk to an advisor and the professor because I have to get in it this semester,” she said.

Overall, complaints to deans and advisors have been minimal concerning registration. There are, however, resources for students who are unable to register for a class initially.

Richard Burrows, UW associate dean, noted if prerequisite classes don’t have enough space, students should contact the instructor or department.

“Some departments have waiting lists; others will open a new section,” he said. “Attend the class and talk to the faculty member after class the first day. They may be able to fix it immediately if there are seats available in the classroom.”

Although undergraduates may not always be able to register for their first choice, the university offers many courses that fulfill general requirements.

“We make course access a pretty high priority,” Westphal-Johnson said. “We do have pressure points, such as biology and organic chemistry where it’s hard to keep up with the demand.”

She also said students with popular majors need to be more flexible.

“Double majors also complicate registration because students try to fill requirements for both majors with the same courses,” Westphal-Johnson said. “Overall, UW still has a good record of students graduating in four years.”

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