Department chairs consider many factors in creating schedule of classes for each semester
Registering for courses is often a struggle for everyone involved.
Many students experience some level of frustration when it comes to course availability and the number of sections offered.
“There was only one section available for some of my classes which made it difficult to get in the ones I needed,” sophomore political science and psychology major Natalie Schwend said. “But all my courses are helpful in some way to my majors. I’m not in anything like basket weaving 101.”
There is also a level of frustration for the faculty and administration when it comes to organizing the classes students register for, a department chair said.
“I understand students get frustrated when a class is not offered, but we try is all I can say … I think we do well accommodating students … especially with so many factors involved in it,” Paul Gullifor the Department Chair of Communications said.
He said organizing the course schedule for the next semester began in August.
“The scheduling process takes place very far in advance,” Gullifor said. “The schedule is decided seven or eight months ahead of time.”
This is because of the wide array of factors that figure into the courses themselves and the overall schedule. Coordinating the schedule involves everything ranging from the number of classrooms available, the professor’s schedules, whether or not the course is a lab, if so how many monitors are available and what the expected demand is for any given course.
“The [course] offerings are limited naturally by resources that are limited … in an ideal world we would offer every course possible,” Gullifor said of the reasoning behind fewer sections.
The administration also considers previous enrollment records to anticipate the demand for classes, the associate dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences Kelly McConnaughay said.
“They look at past enrollment of four or five semesters to project what classes need to be offered in the future,” she said.
Gullifor said sometimes department chairs make errors planning courses.
“The online aspect of courses has made changes much more immediate,” Gullifor said. “It is easy to add another section to a course with high demand.”
Each department decides what general education courses it will offer as well as the courses for their departments’ respective majors. McConnaughay said.
Another aspect of course scheduling is availability. Some courses are available only in the fall or only in the spring.
Sophomore biochemistry major Jamie Marsh said she finds this difficult.
“I have to take some classes in the summer because they are not available in the spring,” she said.
There are a few reasons why courses are only being offered one semester.
“We have to look at cost efficiency. If a class had low enrollment one semester, we will only offer one section of it or consider not offering it,” Gullifor said.
Unexpected events can also throw a wrench in the works of course scheduling.
“There are always things that pop up and change the schedule … one professor is on maternity leave. [Sometimes] it’s completely unpredictable and you need to expect the unexpected,” Gullifor said.
Waitlists can also cause frustration for students.
Administrative support for Student Records in the Communication Department Jamie Glenzinski is responsible for going through each individual student and compare credit hours to ensure the students on waitlists who need courses to graduate are not held up.
“It’s very tedious,” she said.
There are many aspects that feed into course scheduling for students and faculty, although some students think it works out well.
“I got in all the classes I needed just fine,” freshman health science major Hannah Mathena said.
But the organization of the schedule can be confusing.
“To sum it up [course scheduling] is like putting a giant jigsaw puzzle together with no picture and three of the pieces missing,” Administrative Support to Communications Department Chair Sue Mischler said.