The University registrar’s announcement of a revamped course registration experience was intended to improve degree progress for transfer students. Nevertheless, it continues to miss the mark.
In previous semesters, students were assigned registration days determined by terms in residence, or the number of semesters they had completed at UNC. As the University acknowledged, this system left many transfer students scrambling to find a seat in courses required for graduation.
The changes that impact transfer students specifically are the date and time of registration appointments. Now, all undergraduates will be assigned a day to register based on earned credit hours. These hours include credits completed at UNC or other institutions.
But terms in residence will be used to assign the time of day for registration. The more semesters a student has completed at UNC, the earlier their allotted time will be. For transfer students, each full multiple of 15 cumulative transfer-credit hours counts as one semester of full-time study.
Though this method moves away from random time-of-day assignments, using terms in residence disproportionately harms transfer students. This especially affects those coming from schools where they took less than 15 hours per semester, or schools that ran on the quarter system — where one quarter unit translates to 0.67 semester units.
With a maximum of 800 students in each registration time period, transfer students will potentially register after many of their peers in the same class year who have been assigned to the same date.
Course registration can be frustrating and trying for any student. When thousands of students are placed ahead of you to register simply because you transferred, it becomes even more complicated.
Approximately 700 transfer students find their way to UNC each school year for a multitude of reasons — whether it is dissatisfaction with the school they first attended, the goal of completing a bachelor’s degree after community college or fulfilling their dream of attending UNC after not being accepted the first time.
The University must not solely focus on degree progress for transfers — degree experience should also be a priority. Transfer students deserve every opportunity to experience all that UNC academia has to offer, but they have less time than their peers to do so.
UNC is home to some of the top-ranked professional schools in the country, along with unique courses taught by prestigious professors. Creating barriers for transfers to obtain spots in these classes further diminishes their opportunity to make the most of their shortened time here.
For example, the University of California, Berkeley, also uses terms in residence to determine enrollment appointments. However, new transfer students are automatically considered to have four terms completed, creating more equal opportunity for transfers.
Although UNC's registration changes are a step in the right direction, it is time for UNC to learn from its neighboring institutions and make the transition for transfers as seamless as possible.
Transferring schools and transitioning to a new academic environment is burdensome enough. UNC should not continue to make it even more difficult.
If one of the main goals of changing the registration system is to ensure transfer students’ degree progress is not hindered, then the use of terms in residence should end altogether.
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