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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Eagle
Avyay Sriperumbudur headshot

Opinion: American University’s first-year course selection process needs adjustments

Course selection ignores factors like major requirements and high school opportunities

The following piece is an opinion and does not reflect the views of The Eagle and its staff. All opinions are edited for grammar, style and argument structure and fact-checked, but the opinions are the writer’s own.

Being a mid-sized private university, I expected American University’s course selection process to go relatively smoothly, allowing students to register for the classes they want and need. However, it’s not uncommon for students to miss out on classes required for their major or for graduation, forcing them to take these courses late in their time at the school. 

The University assigns course registration time slots for first-years based on previously completed credits. For example, a student who passed three Advanced Placement exams and took a class at a community college would be able to register for classes before a student who came in with no credits.

While considering incoming credits as a factor in course selection time is logical, it can intensify the gap between students who had the opportunity to take college-level classes and students who didn’t. It makes sense to use incoming credits as a factor in course selection since this recognizes that a student worked hard and utilized available opportunities. However, considering other factors would also be useful.

As a Communication, Legal Institutions, Economics, and Government major, I am lucky to have flexibility in the courses I take. If a communications class is full, I can take an economics course for the semester and take the communications class later. However, certain classes are important to take early for more specific majors, and students should be guaranteed spots in these courses. For example, a Justice and Law major is required to take Introduction to Systems of Justice. It would make sense to guarantee students the opportunity to take this class as freshmen since other classes within the major build upon it.

A potential change to the University’s course selection is to pre-enroll first-year students in high-demand classes, if those classes are crucial for their major or graduation. Examples of this mainly include introductory courses that later courses build on, such as the earlier example of the Justice and Law major. While pre-enrolling students in important classes, time slots would still be selected based on credits. 

For example, a computer science student could be enrolled in a section of an introductory computer science class. Then, when the student’s course selection time slot comes up, the student could switch the time of the class to another section, or opt to take it another semester. If there are no other open sections, the student will at least be enrolled in a section of a course that they need for their major.

Another issue with the University’s course selection process is the treatment of transfer students. Transfer students at the University register nearly last for their courses, which is an issue that needs to be addressed. Transfer students deserve to be given a registration time slot based on their credits, just like other students at American University. The University should welcome transfer students and should not treat them differently from the rest of the student body.

Overall, American University's course selection process needs work. While giving students time slots based on credits they bring in is logical, pre-enrolling students in high-demand, major-specific classes can make the University's course selection more equitable. By doing so, the University can reward those who utilized their opportunities to earn college credit in high school without punishing those who didn’t have these opportunities.

Avyay Sriperumbudur is a freshman in the School of Public Affairs and College of Arts and Sciences and a columnist for The Eagle. 

This piece was edited by Alana Parker, Jelinda Montes and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing 

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