We are in the last full month of the academic year, and as students are looking forward to the end, it can feel as though there may be no end in sight. For anyone who lives in the region, the presence of snow on April 16 and again on Wednesday was a not-too-friendly reminder that nature operates on its own, unpredictable calendar. It may be beautiful, but I think most on campus would agree, we’re ready for spring.
Thankfully the academic calendar provides the infrastructure for planning with important timelines and deadlines. For students returning to Luther next year, the 2018 fall semester registration process has begun and they are building their class schedules for next fall. This past week, I was with colleagues attending a conference entitled Purposeful Lives and Meaningful Work. While there, we had the opportunity to compare programs from presenting institutions to what we are doing at Luther. At some point, our conversations turned to the course registration process, and we reminisced on the processes we experienced as students.
These retired processes often included waiting in line, sometimes for a lengthy period, to select a seat in a class by literally pulling out a card from a file set representing a seat in the class. Some of us experienced the transition from in-person registration to phone-based registration. That process, while advanced at the time, is now retired as well. Today, students can remain in the comforts of their room and register for classes online (my daughter just completed her senior year high school registration sitting next to me at home). While there are time queues, students do not need to wait in line or go to a specific location to get into their classes.
I do wonder, however, if there is something of a loss with these changes. That is, the former processes could be frustrating (who likes to wait in lines?) but that shared experience created opportunities to be together, in community. I know I had my share of times when I would have rather been somewhere else, making better use of my time. Certainly, connecting with peers is important and we need to adapt and ensure we can provide meaningful ways for connections to occur.
In the past month, we have taken steps to remove administrative barriers that prevented some students from registering during this spring registration process. In the first instance, the continuing enrollment deposit was eliminated. This $325 expense for students (and families) was challenging for some to pay at the time it was due and if students did not pay, they were ineligible to register for classes. This also prevented them from participating in the room draw process. More recently, we increased the threshold for a student’s account balance that triggers a financial hold. For students affected by this change, it means they can now register for classes and participate in room draw. The goal of both of these changes was to remove barriers and better facilitate the process so that students who expect to be here in the fall can make plans for the fall, including course registration and housing.
For graduating seniors, this time of year provides yet another reminder that their college career is almost complete. While they may hear peers talking about what classes they are taking in the fall, they have different questions on their minds. It’s a time that’s met with excitement and enthusiasm as well as uncertainty and anxiety. For seniors who may be unsure about their post-Luther plans, I recommend a visit to the Career Center. While it’s late in the process, it’s never too late to be working on such plans.