The Monday night before finals began I was exactly where I should have been — at the library. But instead of using the Hatcher Graduate Library’s silence and my caffeine-induced alertness to study, I was busy backpacking classes in anticipation of my 9:15 a.m. registration time. Naturally, I had prepared multiple schedule options (in the likely event that my classes would close), searched ratemyprofessor.com for the best professors and ultimately failed to learn anything for my upcoming exam — time well spent and study-time well wasted.

As former Daily Editorial Page Editor Robert Soave accurately pointed out last year in a column ((Wolverine) Access Denied, 04/13/2009), registration is no exciting time for students at the University. With an incomprehensible Student Business page and fierce competition to avoid dreaded Friday classes, there’s little to praise about this process. But in addition to the already-addressed flaws of the online registration process, I have another bone to pick with the University. I want my study time back. And in order to gain back some of these valuable hours, class registration should occur before finals begin, as the process puts extra stress on students during an already stressful time.

In the University’s defense, the LSA Course Guide is posted weeks in advance of registration dates, but this isn’t much help when students can’t backpack classes until weeks later. And even backpacking isn’t all that helpful, because once the actual registration process begins and available seats begin to dwindle, all bets are off. So scold me all you want for not backpacking classes sooner, but my efforts would be worthless come registration time — when half of the classes in my backpack are closed, and my perfectly constructed schedule is in shambles. Then it’s back to the drawing board, and so-long study time. And it’s not like we can simply put our registration aside until our studying is done, because more classes close every second as other students register.

I understand that class times and locations take time to schedule. But once backpacking opens, all of this has been completed by the University — except for the odd TBA discussion section — and I don’t see why there must be such a large gap between backpacking and registration dates. I’m not suggesting starting registration drastically earlier, but a week or two would save students some of the unavoidable stress that accompanies registration time exacerbated by the added stress of exams. Earlier registration times would also allow students more time to make appointments with advisors and work out the best schedules — instead of rushing in a frenzy to add any class that will give them that desired green checkmark after “proceeding from step 2 to 3”. And allotting more time between registration and the beginning of the semester creates a greater time window for students to get off class waitlists and get overrides when necessary.

This may not be as much of a problem for upperclassmen, who have earlier registration dates, but why should half of the student body suffer when the problem could be avoided? My heart goes out to the little freshies who probably continued refreshing their browsers well into exam week, just praying they wouldn’t see the dreaded yellow triangle (waitlist status) or blue square (class closed) symbols appear. Not to mention that in desperate attempts to save seats in popular classes, students often ask other students with earlier registration dates to hold classes for them — a practice that puts even more stress on the honest individuals waiting patiently for their turns.

So maybe a little added stress isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it becomes a problem when students add anything and everything to their backpacks hoping something will work, and end up enrolled in classes they would otherwise have no interest in taking. I even considered taking a class about video games simply because there were many open seats and it fit in one of my prospective schedule (although I’m still vaguely interested).

When 9:15 a.m. came after my night of frantic backpacking and course browsing, I was fortunate enough to have one of my potential schedules work — but it took upwards of one full night’s worth of stressful studying hours to figure this out. I understand that the stress that comes with registering for classes is inevitable (especially for the baby Wolverines), but by making registration dates slightly earlier, the University could ease at least some of the final-time stress for studiers campus-wide. I was lucky this semester — but had I seen one of the notorious blue squares while trying to study, I think it would have pushed me over the edge.

Leah Potkin can be reached at lpotkin@umich.edu.

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