Ramshackledness of Ram Registration


Picture this: it’s relatively close to the end of your spring semester. Along with impending deadlines for lengthy term papers and the anticipation of cumulative final exams comes the awareness that soon you must construct a potential schedule and register for fall classes.

This moment is typically when an array of both hyper-individualized and general stressors begin to pop up for many Fordham students.

Registration is not a student-friendly process.

Semester after semester, Fordham students face an exorbitant amount of stress in the days leading up to and during this period. Much of this pressure has to do with personalized issues, circumstances and concerns about one’s own future or career plans.

However, a large and unacceptable amount comes from the university’s unreliable electronic infrastructure, the inaccessibility or lack of guidance from some advisors and the university’s extensive core requirements.

The MyFordham registration portal is the catch-all spot for students in crafting their potential schedules. The site allows them to “browse classes,” “plan ahead” and eventually register for courses.

Similarly, DegreeWorks is an online program that enables students to track their academic progress. These two sites are integral to the scheduling process and garner much student interaction during registration periods.

Yet, despite students’ absolute reliance on their sustained functionality, these programs are disorganized in the information they convey. DegreeWorks often displays the same course in its pop-up windows three, maybe four times. It is also unable to effectively communicate the special nature of certain courses like theses that count as additional, honors credits but are presented instead as fulfilling major requirements.

These programs are unreliable in performance on heavily-trafficked registration mornings. The site has repeatedly crashed on the morning of registration for various students and for varying periods of time, causing some to be disadvantaged in their class pickings and heightening stress levels.

It is imperative that Fordham finds ways to improve the state of these systems to make them more user-friendly.

Some of the confusion caused by these wonky websites might be easily cleared up by an advisor or dean that is particularly experienced in their usage.

However, many students do not have positive experiences with their advisors. Some are less informed about certain issues than the students themselves.

Some are extremely overburdened with advisees due to the fact that there are a limited number of tenured professors per department. As a result, these in-demand advisors are difficult to get in touch with.

According to the Communications and Media studies department, the department assigns around 40 students to each advising professor.

As a student, it is difficult to feel as though an advisor has a good sense of who you are, what you want out of your education and how best to advise you if they are not good at keeping in contact or are overwhelmed by other responsibilities, which often include academic workloads amidst advising ones.

Another grievance many students have with Fordham’s scheduling process is that some see the university’s extensive core requirements as a hindrance to their obtainment of a degree in the area of their choice.

The Ram acknowledges the benefit of the core curriculum. Wide-ranging and diverse coursework is part of both the mission of our university in its intention to cultivate cura personalis and the reason many either choose to attend the institution and find its education valuable.

However, if the university is going to require all students to fulfill an extensive core, it should make doing so easy for all students. Those in the Visual Arts department, for example, have significantly fewer course options available to them that both fulfill core requirements and major or minor requirements in their department.

As a result, certain students are unable to avoid taking classes that they may not be interested in, may not be suited to or may not benefit from in terms of both their current academic and future career successes, since they might have to take many core classes outside of their areas of interest.

Similarly, these individuals wind up having to take more classes (which also translates to spend more money) than others in more robust departments whose core requirements easily overlap with their major/minor ones.

The university should aim to offer core classes that also count as major/minor requirements across all departments in a more uniform way so all students have more equal opportunities to fulfill them or revision the core to be less taxing as students continue on in their education.

So now it is almost registration day. You’ve spent the better part of a few days, maybe even weeks scouring DegreeWorks or MyFordham and in contact with your advisor. You have finally found classes that work with your needs in terms of requirements, academics and interests.

You’ve done everything right, taken all the proper precautionary measures. You’ve learned from all of your previous mistakes as a freshman, sophomore or even junior.

Except, things may go awry anyway.

Maybe MyFordham crashes. Maybe there is a hold on a certain class that you or your advisor didn’t know about. Maybe you run into some other unforeseen obstacle in the road despite trying so carefully to avoid crashing.

To come out of registration with a course load that satisfies your scheduling needs and academic interests feels incredibly lucky. We at The Ram believe it shouldn’t take a stroke of good fortune to have a successful registration period.

The university should be making it as easy as possible for students to take its courses and, more importantly, to want to take its courses. The university should also make it easy for its students to graduate with the degree of their choice in a timely and cost-effective fashion.

Too many students have a lingering fear they won’t be able to graduate within the timeframe or budget they previously anticipated.

Fordham must take steps to clean up its registration process and requirements if it wants to keep enrolling students in the first place.