Should students be allowed to enroll late?

New registration procedures may be just around the corner for Bellevue College students. Right now, amendments regarding late registration are in the discussion stage. Members of the Associated Student Government and faculty met on Wednesday, July 16, to do their part to determine the path Bellevue College should take in regards to the registration procedures.

Currently, students can enroll themselves in classes during the first three days of the quarter without instructor permission. These changes would require instructor permission when enrolling during days one through four, and division dean approval for days five through ten. Another change will allow instructors to drop students who have not appeared after the second day and who have not contacted the instructor with an explanation. In online classes, instructors would be allowed to drop students who have not logged in during the first two days of the quarter or attempted teacher contact during this time period.  Currently, instructors cannot drop students from classes and if a student does not attend a class, they will receive an ‘F’ grade on their transcript and their seat will remain reserved for them but empty. One stipulation to this change is instructor-initiated drop requests must be submitted within the full refund period. Additionally, waitlists will only enroll students prior to the quarter’s start.

These new policies are expected to drastically These new policies are expected to drastically decrease the amount of students who will start classes late. Matt Groshong, from the Registrar’s office, believes this will increase student success. As evidence, he has data showing that students who sign up late in the quarter do worse on average than those who signed up earlier.  He believes the performance is not necessarily the student’s fault, but “it’s our fault, if we allow students to enroll later.”

According to  Groshong, the current set of policies also creates problems where classes are cancelled prematurely. Deans sometimes must cancel classes due to low enrollment. If the quarter starts and the class is nearly empty it becomes cancelled, however students who would have signed up for these classes wait until the last second, and find class they need for their degree program was cancelled. One faculty member related how sometimes 10 to 15 students come in claiming a class they would have signed up for had been cancelled. According to them, the college must keep an eye towards sustainability, and running a class with only four students is not cost effective.

According to Groshong, students being absent for the first days of class disrupts classroom community.  Other students and instructors have already been introduced, and learning needs to take place after the first few days. One student was in tears this winter quarter because they could not enroll in a class where they had been waitlisted. There were two empty seats in the class but the instructor could not enroll them, because Bellevue College currently forbids instructors from dropping students.

Student government considered the proposal and had questions.  ASG President Melantha Jenkins mentions how she enrolled late in a class yet was academically successful enough to receive an ‘A’.  VP of Student Affairs Maria Chebanova asks whether the permitted two day absence period might span several days for classes which meet only twice a week. According to Student Trustee Stassney Obregon “it’s a great idea with good intentions, however, I don’t see the good or the bad yet” and she would like “greater input from the faculty and students” before making a decision.

It was acknowledged that an aggressive marketing campaign would be necessary in an effort to ensure that students know that signing up late would no longer be acceptable. Pamphlets were suggested as a possible vehicle in addition to posters, class meetings and emails.