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Students adjust to delayed spring registration date


Photo Illustration: A UNC student puzzles over ConnectCarolina as plans for the 2021 spring semester remain uncertain for many students.

After the University announced a delayed start to the spring semester in an email Thursday, students still have questions about the academic calendar and the likelihood of in-person classes.

Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz and Provost Bob Blouin said UNC’s spring semester will start on Jan. 19 and registration for the spring will open on Nov. 30 — although a deadline to register for spring classes has not been determined. 

Junior Ash Curry said the email left her with several questions. 

“I think the email definitely left a lot of loose ends,” Curry said. “I’ve seen some confusion on social media of people not knowing what the semester’s going to look like even if we have a start and end date.”

Curry said students were left wondering whether the spring semester will be partially in person or completely online. If there will be in-person instruction, she said she wants to plan a schedule that is completely remote to protect herself and high-risk people in her life.

Students will be able to see the modality of their courses in Connect Carolina before and during registration for the spring semester and can search for classes based on modality, Alicia Ferreira, the records and enrollment services specialist at the Office of the University Registrar, said in an email.

Ferreira said a new credit-based registration model that was meant to be implemented for spring 2021 registration will not yet go into effect, meaning enrollment into courses will function as it has for previous semesters. 

She said students will be assigned their registration date based on their terms in residence, per usual, and enrollment appointment dates will be posted to the registrar’s calendar once they have been determined.

“We hope we can implement the new model for registration during a 2021 term, but with the challenges imposed on preparing for the upcoming year in general, it is not an ideal time to try a completely new process,” Ferreira said in an email. 

Sophomore Megan Wagner said her biggest concern is when the shopping cart feature on Connect Carolina will open so she can begin planning her classes.

“I know there’s a lot of uncertainty whether it’s going to be online or in person, but for me that’s not the biggest thing,” Wager said. “I need to know if it’s going to be possible for me to take all the classes I need, because if there are certain classes I don’t take next semester, I won’t graduate on time without tacking on extra summer semesters.”

Instead of registering for spring classes during the fall semester this year, students will register after the fall semester is over. Wagner said she is concerned this might make registration more difficult.

“Possibly having to do this over winter break, when there might be less support from advising, it’s just going to be very difficult to plan,” she said. “I’m a person where I like to have a to-do list three months ahead of time, and doing things last minute, like a month before classes start, is not going to be very convenient for me.”

Academic advising services will be available to students as long as the University is open and will only be closed Dec. 23 through Jan. 1, Chloe Russell, associate dean for academic advising, said in an email.

“Our goal of providing the best service possible to our students remains constant and we will continue our ‘all hands on deck’ approach during the registration period of Nov. 30 - Dec. 11,” Russell said. “This includes more than 40 academic advising staff – which is comparable to previous years.”

For Wagner, the lack of spring planning has also created uncertainty about her housing next semester. She began this fall as a resident adviser, but chose to resign and move home.

Wagner said that if she is not able to be a resident adviser or find single-occupancy housing elsewhere next semester, she may stay at home again.

“Being at home isn’t the most conducive to learning, but being on campus where I might get sick just by living somewhere is also not conducive to learning, so just the uncertainty with all of that is really stressful as well,” she said.

Curry said she hopes the University will communicate more with students and provide opportunities for student feedback.

“I haven’t really been aware of a lot of ways to say my concerns, what I wish would happen or what’s on my mind, so if there would be more ways to communicate how I can make my feelings and experiences clear, I think that would be a really beneficial and useful thing for a lot of students in the community,” Curry said.

In the campus-wide email sent on Thursday, Guskiewicz said additional details about modes of instruction for spring courses, campus housing and plans for isolation and quarantine space, deadlines for spring registration and expectations, and guidelines for on-campus and off-campus activities would be shared soon.

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The email also invited the campus community to continue to provide feedback about their experience this semester and hopes for the spring 2021 semester.