By Alexa Guerrero
Every Quarter, closer to the end than the beginning, is always the same for UCSB students. Log into GOLD, find out when your first pass time to register for classes is (down to the minute!), set a reminder for later so you don’t forget, and go perusing for the classes you need or want to take beforehand, add them to your cart, and come back to the site when your reminder goes off. You try not to think about which two classes you’ll have to prioritize in your first pass and which one or two classes you’re willing to risk filling up once your second pass time comes along.
But for those of us who have been at UCSB longer than two years, we remember not having to risk one class during our first pass time. Instead of being capped at 10 units, we were free to register for 12 units, making it easier for us to plan our schedules, and most importantly, not have to worry about keeping our full-time student status in order to keep our financial aid. We also didn’t have to wait until our second pass time to be assured of our financial and academic standing.
Interestingly enough, this new procedure was introduced the year following the COVID quarantine, when the university resumed in-person teaching. I still remember the outrage I walked into midway through my junior year fall quarter. The seniors in my English class were raging at the injustice of the new pass system. Their previous plans for the year would now have to be reworked based solely on chance and luck. Sure, as seniors they still had priority standing, but what good was that in the face of such limitations? Who’s to say the third class they decided to risk would still have enough space to register for by their second pass time? Classes here at UCSB fill up fairly quickly, especially when you take into account that the university admitted over 7,500 more students than the previous year, with nearly 300 of them enrolling.
Due to the global pandemic that took over the world in early 2020, everyone but essential workers were working or studying from home. This unorthodox yet arguably necessary method of schooling made it easier to accommodate students into classes, which could explain the university’s decision to over-admit students. But while this wasn’t as big an issue whilst schooling was online, “Zoom University,” as some termed the pandemic year, would not last forever. With students returning to campus for as many in-person classes as were available, solutions for the decisions made the previous year were needed. Enter, registration unit limitation.
“Why should my education suffer because the school decided to admit more students than they should have?” one particularly enraged senior demanded after being made aware of the new registration guidelines. The upperclassmen were in agreement with her, complaining about what this now meant for their course plans, while the lowerclassmen stayed quiet, watching as those close to graduating scowled in their seats, hurriedly looking through their GOLD and outlined future schedules to plan anew. Even the instructor was wary once she walked in and was told why students were angry.
Though the chatter has since died now that a year has passed, many still find it unfair and a nuisance. Unfair because they had no say in the decision that specifically relates to the education for which they’re paying, and a nuisance for having to choose between necessary courses and gambling with the risk of missing one when having to wait for their second and third pass times. And while some agree that it has made registering for classes more equitable for students, others feel that the struggle to get into a class is part of the freshman experience.
“Yeah, it’s annoying, but what can you do?” shrugged one current fourth-year student when asked how she felt about the registration limits. “I mean, on the one hand, I get that it’s meant to help other students, specifically the freshmen. But on the other, what does that have to do with me and my education, you know?
I did my time. I struggled to find classes and a seat but I did it. So why make me struggle even more now that I’m an upperclassman and am supposed to have the advantage when it comes to registration? It just sucks.”
And it does suck. It sucks that the students have to suffer the consequences of the school’s decision to admit more students than they can fit into a class, much less house—but the housing crisis is a whole other mess. Now, students’ education has become even more competitive than before with students scrambling for a spot in a class they wish to take and having to settle for a course they didn’t want to take if they find themselves unable to register for their preferred class. Having students take classes they’re not interested in is a waste of their time and money, and can only lead to poor participation and effort.
Hopefully, this attempt at an equitable registration process will only lead to a less stressful version in the future where students don’t have to fear their academic and financial status will be taken away due to forces out of their control.