fter finishing my second year at CSUDH, I was on track to graduate in four years. I was certain of that because I made sure to know what classes I needed to take, especially any prerequisites.
Too bad some graduating seniors hadn’t done the same.
Entering my junior year, I needed one prerequisite, but the class was full. I got on the waitlist and felt confident that I’d get in since I was first. Unfortunately, the instructor gave a graduating senior, who wasn’t on the wait list, the one slot in the class.
The next semester, the same thing happened
I know I am not the only student who has diligently planned their classes to make sure they graduate on time only to endure stress and anger when they are hit by the harsh reality that graduating seniors get first priority when registering for classes.
Emily Bertulano, a child development major, lost her seat to a senior. It held her back from graduating in the fall.
“Why even create a waitlist if you’re going to add random people?” said Bertulano. “I understand you are trying to help the person that’s graduating so they can get out of here but you’re also putting people who have been working hard behind.”
Why do graduating seniors wait until the last minute to take a class they need, especially when it is a prerequisite for other classes, and why even have a waitlist for full classes if it isn’t followed?
As I dug into this, I realized something: there appears to be no university policy on waitlists once classes begin. Instructors in one department say they are told to give graduating seniors first priority; others say it’s entirely at their own discretion. Another issue is that the waitlists are purged right before classes start, and unless instructors check, they have no idea who was higher up on the list.
I don’t want to believe that seniors are irresponsible and not keeping track of the courses they need. Maybe some seniors, but definitely not all.
Whether it is irresponsibility, life happens, a prereq class didn’t have enough sections, or they’re misled by an advisor, here are some things all students can do to stay on track and not derail other students’ plan to graduate on time:
Check your Student Center at least twice a semester and make sure you have taken your prereqs.
Speak to your adviser at least twice each semester, in the beginning and before your registration date, to make sure you are taking the correct classes. A lot can change from the beginning to the end of the semester especially if your department is undergoing degree changes.
The degree roadmaps on the CSUDH website recommend students start taking major pre-requisites as early as their first semester, whether you are a freshman or a transfer student. But when there are not enough seats for a course, it makes it harder for students to work their way up and stay on track to graduate when graduating seniors are given priority.
Professors can also help by checking if a student has completed their prereqs before classes start.
Another way students can be proactive is by using Smart Planner, which is located in your Student Center when you log into “my.csudh.edu.”
Tara Hardee, the university registrar, recommends using Smart Planner to help you plan out the classes you need.
“You can customize [Smart Planner],” says Hardee. “If you know you want to take five classes in Spring of 19 and you push save, it auto adjusts, and it shows you how long it’s going to take [to graduate].”
Using Smart Planner will also help the university see what classes students plan on taking, which will help the university know how many classes to offer.
“If you can look from a faculty perspective or a course planning perspective… we can see what classes you have planned,” says Hardee. “It doesn’t lock you in but…That would help in terms of thinking how many courses to offer that semester, and which courses. “
Smart Planner can also be a solution to the lack of availability for classes. If you’re sick and tired of a class only offering one section, using Smart Planner can help.
Bertulano and I are among many students who would be willing to pay a tuition increase if it meant more classes will be available because students will save more money in the long run by doing their required classes during the spring and fall instead of paying extra during summer and winter intersessions.
“It benefits us more because [it’ll help us] get out of here in four to five years,” said Bertulano. “Students won’t go broke paying for summer classes.