David Laude

Photo Credit: Albert Lee | Daily Texan Staff

A new initiative from the provost’s office, the Senior Countdown program, will reward members of the class of 2016 for committing to graduate at the end of the upcoming school year.

Students who go to their academic adviser and confirm they will graduate in four years can sign up for the program. In return, students can get help registering for courses they need to graduate, receive career counseling, earn access to networking events and get free gifts.  

“This is simply a reminder to the students that there is a path, that they have this … contract with us that says we’re making sure they get what they need,” said David Laude, senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management.  

The program, which debuted last week, is one of a number of efforts to boost four-year graduation rates at the University. Four-year graduation rates have remained above 50 percent over the past decade, and President William Powers Jr. set a goal for the class of 2017 to leave with a 70 percent four-year graduation rate.  

Laude said he believes students don’t always graduate in four years because of a culture in which four-year graduation isn’t seen as necessary. Another contributing factor, Laude said, is the occasional student’s inability to enroll in courses necessary to graduate.   

“Over and over, I talk to people who give up on trying to find that coursework, because it gets too difficult,” Laude said. “This is something that we really have to work on to fix. I think that the degree plans should be much simpler, and a student’s choice of available courses to be able to graduate should come a lot easier.”

Kathy Uitvlugt, Senior Countdown program manager, said the University largely pushes for four-year graduation rates to save students money in tuition.

“On average, our students incur about $19,000 in debt if they graduate in four years,” Uitvlugt said. “It really makes a difference.”

Biology junior Jacqueline Lim said she will most likely not register for Senior Countdown because she is already guaranteed access to courses she needs through her four-year freshman interest group.

“I was going to [sign up], but getting an appointment with the adviser to talk to her about it is really difficult at this time, since registration is going on, and walk-ins have a really long wait time,” Lim said. “The only incentive for me to sign up for it would be the free gifts, and, still, I’m still not sure it’s worth the trouble of waiting to see an adviser in the biology department.”

Kim Saindon, international relations and global studies junior, said she can’t see any downsides to signing up for the program.

“I don’t know if that kind of a program is going to make a difference for [everyone], but I think it’s a nice incentive for people who are already on that path,” Saindon said.  

Laude said the provost’s office has spent a lot of effort over the past few years trying to increase four-year graduation rates.

“Now, it’s time to shift our attention to the back-end and deal with the issues that students face when they’re getting ready to graduate,” Laude said. “It’s prompted consideration we’ve given to what exactly a graduating senior was going to want to see made available to them in terms of resources as they’re getting ready to graduate.”

Nestled on the ground floor of the Graduate School of Business Building, the Center for Teaching and Learning’s testing facilities serve thousands of students.
Photo Credit: Jack DuFon | Daily Texan Staff

As the University continues to expand its range of online classes, officials at the Center for Teaching and Learning said they have recognized a need for a larger testing center.

The Center currently operates a testing space in the Graduate School of Business Building, although the space is not considered an official testing center. The space has 23 seats for testing, according to executive director Harrison Keller, and allows students to take exams in a proctored location. Students come to take exams for online courses, take placement exams to test out of courses or receive testing accommodations for a disability.

David Laude, senior vice provost for Enrollment and Curriculum Services, said an increased number of online courses has accordingly increased demand for using the testing facilities. Laude said the government and psychology departments offered a combined total of around 1,000 online courses in the fall and spring this year alone. 

“We absolutely need a substantially larger testing facility,” Laude said. “We’re in the planning stages, but this is something that’s going to have to come.”

Keller said other universities in the U.S. have established testing centers.

“We’re scanning right now for what kind of facilities other universities have,” Keller said. “We’re also looking at what kind of technologies are available.”

The current space where students can take proctored tests relies heavily on old technology, such as scantrons, according to Keller.

“It’s clear that this is a pinch point that needs to be addressed,” Keller said. “As the pace of innovations is accelerating on campus, that puts a different kind of demand on our facilities.”

Laude, who teaches an introductory chemistry course with approximately 500 students each semester, said not every student is able to make the testing course’s time. He said he offers a makeup date for every exam and has generally been able to accommodate each student.

“Because we hold evening exams, there’ll always be lots of conflicts,” Laude said. “[But] there’s almost never any issue with students missing an exam.”

Kelli Bradley, executive director of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD), said the number of students registered with SSD has increased from around 1,500 in 2009 to 2,300 this year. Bradley said 80–85 percent of registered students request testing accommodations.

“The more students register, the more students receiving extended time or test accommodations, the more likely there’s going to be the need for this space,” Bradley said.

Erin Gleim, Student Government director of the Students with Disabilities Agency, authored a resolution that supported the construction of a larger testing center. SG voted in support of the Center on Tuesday.

“It’s an expectation that we have [a testing center], and the fact that we don’t is a disservice,” Gleim said.

Over the past five to six years, SSD increased the number of exams they proctored, from 500 tests a semester to 6,000, according to the resolution.

“We’re mostly hoping to raise awareness that this is an issue,” Gleim said. “This is something that benefits everyone.”

One of President William Powers Jr.’s central goals for his presidency was to achieve a 70 percent four-year graduation rate. While the goal has not yet been reached, Powers said the University has made “tremendous progress.”
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

The University’s four-year graduation rate has shown improvements over the last several years — but when President William Powers Jr. leaves office at the end of the school year, fewer than 70 percent of the students who started as freshmen in fall 2011 will be leaving with him. 

In an interview with The Daily Texan, Powers acknowledged that he will leave office without watching a class achieve one of the central goals of his presidency — a 70 percent four-year graduation rate. Still, Powers said, the University is on its way to meeting such a goal.

“We’re not quite there yet, but we’re making tremendous progress,” Powers said. 

The four-year graduation rate was 54.5 percent in fiscal year 2014, up from 40 percent in fiscal year 2000, according to a University accountability report.

Watch an interview with Powers as he discusses his tenure as president:

David Laude, senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management, said when he was brought into the provost’s office, he was charged with improving the four-year graduation rate quickly. 

“The class that was supposed to have this done by was the class of 2017,” Laude said. “That means the class that is currently finishing its sophomore year — two years from now — they need to be graduating not with a 50 percent graduation rate, but with a 70 percent [rate].” 

Over the course of the last two years, the University introduced a number of initiatives aimed at increasing the four-year graduation rate. Laude gave a $3 million-grant to the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs to hire mental health counselors in the University’s largest colleges, to reduce student stress, and launched a four-year graduation “help desk,” among other initiatives.

Last month, UT System Chancellor William McRaven said he was not satisfied with current four-year graduation rates at any of the UT System institutions. 

“We have got to get our four-year graduation rates and our six-year graduation rates — we have got to improve those across all of our institutions,” McRaven said. “I’m not happy with where they are in a number of areas.” 

Postponed graduation causes a negative ripple effect impacting student debt, among other factors, McRaven said. 

“We are doing a disservice to the students, to the family of those students and, frankly, to the institution by not having better graduation rates,” McRaven said. 

Powers said the root of the argument for increasing four-year graduation rates is that UT should do all it can to reduce the financial impact of higher education on students and families. 

“There’s a lot of discussion and, rightly so, about affordability and the resources that a family has to devote to public higher education,” Powers said. “We’re sensitive to that.” 

Powers said the dialogue on campus between students and the administration has changed in his years as president. 

“I’m very proud of the fact that the initial response was, ‘Well, they’re telling us we’re not graduating on time,’ and now the attitude is, ‘We’re working together, helping each other toward a common goal,’” Powers said.

The class of 2017 is exhibiting the right signs for meeting the 70 percent graduation rate, Laude said. 

“The class of 2017’s persistence rate at the end of their first year was 95 percent,” Laude said. “In other words, all but 5 percent came back and started their sophomore year, and that is the largest rate in the university’s history.” 

The improvements stem in part from a changing campus mindset, according to Laude. 

“A lot of the reason for this improvement has to do with things like really getting everybody to buy into the idea of trying to make it possible to graduate in four years,” Laude said. “There’s lots of community building.”

Based on new data, 86 percent of current University sophomores are on track to graduate within four years, according to David Laude, senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management.

As part of a University-wide effort to increase graduation rates, University spokesman Joey Williams said programs such as Progress to Degree have been implemented to track how close students in the class of 2017 are to completing their degree requirements.

Williams said the Progress to Degree program implements a University-wide audit to identify which students are, and are not, on track.

“The audit is conducted by the Registrar, who complies a snapshot of where the students are in their four-year progress,” Williams said in an email. “That list is then given to all the colleges, who then proactively work with each student who is not on track to graduate in four years.”

In 2011, President William Powers Jr. announced his goal to increase the four-year graduation rates to 70 percent. He subsequently appointed the Task Force on Undergraduate Graduation Rates, which published a report in 2012 stating that the University could achieve this goal by 2016 through enhancing the first-year orientation experience and by improving advising and student tracking. 

According to the University, UT currently has a four-year graduation rate of 55 percent, which is the highest four-year graduation rate in Texas but straggles behind peer institutions nationwide.

Laude said that since there is now a focus on getting students to graduate in four years, the University is able to more easily identify students not on track and find ways to help them.

“For many of them, it can be as simple as they had to take a semester off because they studied abroad, or maybe they had family issues that they had to deal with,” Laude said. “But for others, it may have been a matter of changing majors. I think, for a lot of those students who have fallen off track, if they work closely with their advisors and find degree plans that are better fit for them, they can make up that difference.”

Laude said one of the reasons why a large percentage of the class of 2017 is set to graduate in four years is because students are aware of the rising cost of education and the burden of debt. He said increased graduation rates will also improve the efficiency of the University.

“In the end, it’s going to mean a lot more students get to enroll at UT and graduate at UT because we do a better job of getting students through,” Laude said.

Correction: This story incorrectly stated the University's current graduation rate is at 52 percent. As of the class of 2014, the rate is at 55 percent.

University students in fall 2014 hail from 226 out of 254 different Texas counties, primarily from the eastern half of the state, according to data from the Office of Institutional Reporting, Research, and Information Systems.

In both 2013 and 2014, the greatest number of UT students from each county adjusted for population came from Travis, Austin, Houston and Williamson counties — all of which are within a 200-mile radius of the University. This means that for every 201 people that live in Travis County, one person goes to UT. Austin, Houston and Williamson counties’ student numbers are 202, 221 and 275, respectively.

Student numbers were calculated by dividing each county’s population by the number of students in the county enrolled at UT.

David Laude, senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management, said location is one of the primary reasons why many UT students are originally from Travis or Williamson counties.

“There are lots of people who don’t want to go far from home,” Laude said. “They’ll look at UT being in Austin, and they’ll realize they have this flagship university, which is literally just around the corner [and] is one of the best universities they can find for 1,000 miles in any direction.”

Kathy Ryan, associate superintendent for Austin Independent School District high schools, said many students from AISD might attend the University as a result of mentorship and school programs, especially Advise Texas.

Advise Texas, run out of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at UT, hires recent University graduates to advise first-generation and low-income high school students about the college application process.

“Personal connections with teachers or staff members just make [students] all the more want to go to that university,” Ryan said.

Of counties in Texas that have populations greater than 500,000 people, Fort Bend, Collin and Harris counties all top the list in the number of students who attend UT per capita. Collin County is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, while Fort Bend and Harris counties help make up the city of Houston.

“Houston has always been an exceptional feeder for UT,” Laude said. “I think that once students are looking at the options for universities to attend, and they’re looking for a university of high-caliber, UT-Austin, being two-and-a-half to three hours away, affords a really great opportunity for them.”

Laude said when students have prominent universities in their hometowns that are farther from the city of Austin, they become less likely to attend UT. He said this is why high school students in El Paso — which has a per capita rate more than 4.5 times that of Travis County — may opt to enroll at UT-El Paso over UT-Austin.

To reach out to more high school students in the El Paso area, associate director of admissions Caroline Enriquez said the University opened the El Paso Admissions Center in 2011.

“We also host events for high school counselors in the fall and prospective students at different points in the admissions process to recruit them to apply and celebrate them when they’re admitted,” Enriquez said in an email.

Although there are fewer students who attend UT from El Paso than Travis County, Laude said undergraduates from El Paso tend to be more successful at the University than those who don’t travel too far from home to go to school.

“If you look at students here in the city of Austin or from Williamson County, they are less likely to live in a dorm,” Laude said. “One of the ideas about what promotes success is the building of community on campus.”

According to Laude, students who live on campus have more time to integrate into campus life, while those who live at home may not.

“If you live up in Cedar Park, you [could be] responsible for taking care of your little brother in the afternoon,” Laude said. “So when you drive into school in the morning [to] go to class and then leave in the afternoon, it decreases the likelihood that you’re going to be able to develop that relationship with the campus.”

Students offered to participate in the Path to Admission through Co-Enrollment program in 2014 had a higher enrollment rate in the program than those offered to participate in the UT Coordinated Admission Program, according to enrollment figures from the University.

Like CAP, the PACE program, a partnership with Austin Community College, gives students who were originally denied admission to UT-Austin an alternative outlet for attending the University. In 2014, 24.9 percent of students accepted their offer to enroll in PACE, while 15.8 percent of students accepted the University’s offer to enroll in the CAP program at other UT System institutions. 

This is a change from 2013, the first year PACE began admitting students, when 18.6 percent of students accepted the CAP offer and 9.1 percent accepted PACE.

David Laude, senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management, said PACE was developed as a way to admit students who were almost able to get into the University but were not accepted because of class space constraints. He said these students typically tend to be in the top-10 percent of their graduating class.

“We typically admit 7,200 freshmen [into UT-Austin] because that’s what we have capacity for,” Laude said. “But by developing this relationship with ACC, where we offer just one class to the PACE students and ACC offers the additional three or four, we were able to provide an additional collection of students with that foot in the door to get into UT-Austin.”

Students who decide to enroll in PACE are required to take 24 hours of classes in residence at ACC, as well as at least six hours of classes at UT-Austin. After successfully completing the program, students are able to transfer directly to the University. Those who enroll in CAP are able to transfer to the University from another UT System school after having a 3.2 GPA after two semesters without having failed any classes.

Laude said this past year, 845 freshman University applicants were offered PACE under holistic review, a process used to identify students more likely to come to UT-Austin. This differs from CAP, in which everyone who is not accepted into the University has the opportunity to participate. 

“Overall, the caliber of PACE students is going to be generally higher because it’s not just open to everybody who is denied admission to UT-Austin,” Laude said. “So we’re somewhat more selective, and that would mean the kind of student [accepted into PACE] is more likely to meet the minimum requirements.”

Of the 845 students offered to participate in PACE, 203 of those freshman applicants enrolled in part-time, in-residence coursework on the UT-Austin campus, according to University data.

Meanwhile, 773 out of 1,673 CAP participants transferred to UT-Austin from another System institution in 2014. More than 60 percent of CAP transfers came from UT-San Antonio. 

Laude said UTSA is in the process of reducing the number of students it accepts through CAP, which was previously used to attract more students to all System campuses across the state.

“But what’s happened over the last decade or so is that those campuses have become increasingly attractive to students in their own right,” Laude said. “So there are now lots of students who want to go to UTSA, and that’s their first choice. As that number of students grows, what is happening is UTSA is put in this position where they’ve got kids there who aren’t really ‘Roadrunners.’”

Joe Izbrand, chief communications officer at UTSA, said approximately 70 percent of CAP students coming to UTSA leave after their first year, artificially deflating four- and six-year graduation rates and negatively impacting the first-year retention rate by 10 percent.

“Graduation rates are an important factor in seeking funding support for the University, and our advancement toward designation as a Tier One research institution,” Izbrand said in an email. “So our focus needs to be on admitting those students who are committed to starting and finishing their college career at UTSA, completing their studies on time and taking advantage of the exceptional research opportunities UTSA has to offer.”

Since state requirements over UT’s automatic admission policy changed in 2011, the average SAT score of accepted freshman has continued to increase.

For the first time since 2010, the University is increasing the percentage with which Texas students are automatically accepted to the University from the top-7 percent of high school classes to the top-8 percent. The change will go into effect for those applying for admission beginning in fall 2016. 

Before 2010, the University automatically accepted the top-10 percent of high school classes. Since fall 2011, the University has been required by law to admit 75 percent of its incoming freshmen automatically based on their high school class rankings and has changed the automatic acceptance threshold.

Between fall 2011 and fall 2013, the University’s average composite SAT score for first-time freshmen increased 0.8 percent from a composite score of 1858 to 1872, according to data from the University’s Institutional Reporting, Research, and Information Systems. In fall 2007, after the SAT switched to a 2400-point grading system, the score was 1833. The College Board announced earlier this year it will switch back to a 1600-point grading system.

David Laude, senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management, said the University’s increase in SAT scores might be because of the growth in the number of UT applicants over the past 10-15 years.

“When more students apply to the University, you end up in a situation where you have the ability to be more selective, especially for students who want to enter into [science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or] STEM fields,” Laude said. “The math SAT score is just a very good indication of your math preparation. Schools like the Cockrell School of Engineering and the College of Natural Sciences naturally look for students who have high math SATs.”

Laude said the competition between people to be in the top percent of their classes produces students who are better at taking standardized tests.

Students who are not admitted as automatic qualifiers are accepted under holistic review.

“Holistic review asks that we look at a large number of different factors to determine who it is who will be admitted,” Laude said. “SAT is just one of those. However, because there’s such substantial interest in STEM fields, I think you start to see a disproportionate weighting given toward the SAT for those particular areas because admissions is looking for a goodness of fit for a student.”

SAT and ACT scores of Austin Independent School District students have also increased.

According to AISD, the average overall SAT scores for AISD students during the 2013-2014 school year was 1507, compared with 1432 statewide. The average ACT composite score for AISD students was 21.9, exceeding the state and national average composite scores of 20.9 and 21.0, respectively.

“Preparing Austin students to graduate college-ready is among our top priorities at AISD,” AISD Interim Superintendent Paul Cruz said in a statement. “An increase in SAT and ACT scores, as well as higher participation in taking these exams, shows we are making progress.”

Laude said about 38,000 students applied to the University in fall 2013, and he expects this number to grow over the next few years, therefore increasing the competition for non-automatic qualifying spots.  

“It means you just have to be really, really good across the board to be able to get in,” Laude said.

David Laude, chemistry professor and vice provost, demonstrates how to make ice cream using milk and nitrogen gas Friday. Laude performed multiple experiments during the demonstration to show kids that chemistry can be fun.

Photo Credit: Claire Schaper | Daily Texan Staff

While many students avoid taking difficult science classes, chemistry professor David Laude said they are not something people should be afraid of.

Laude, who is also a senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management, presented a demonstration Friday evening to show how chemistry relates to almost everything in life.

Laude began his demonstration by making it clear the audience was not only going to have fun but also learn. 

“For those of you thinking I am doing a chemistry circus, I am not,” Laude said. “I am teaching chemistry.”

The event was hosted by the Environmental Science Institute as part of its "Hot Science - Cool Talks" series. Audience members of all ages were invited to take part in the demonstrations, and Laude said he wanted students to have hands-on opportunities to learn. 

According to Laude, chemistry can be interesting even if something is not exploding.

“Is it going to go ka-boom?” Laude said. “No, but something cooler will happen.”

Prior to the talk, an interactive fair was held in which different experiments were demonstrated, including freezing balloons with nitrogen and separating oil from water. Children were able to engage with Laude by taking part in the demonstrations when he asked for volunteers.

Sierra Johnson, a child who attended the chemistry demonstration, said she was entertained throughout the show, especially during the calorie-burning experiment. By burning food with high calories, Laude showed how much time calories take to burn. 

Chris Jones, a father who brought his two children, said he appreciated Laude’s integration of fun in learning science.

“I thought it was a very good overview of chemistry, and Laude did a very good job of introducing basic concepts to the audience,” Jones said. “I really liked all the demonstrations that were well matched to what he was trying to teach us.”

Laude said he has long been integrating fun into his teachings in hopes of keeping children active in the sciences.

“To get kids to stop staring at video screens, that’s my number one reason,” Laude said.

Government sophomore Mariadela Villegas also attended the event and said Laude’s presentation was entertaining and informative.

“I think it was great the way he presented the topics because the information he brought was not only understandable to college students, but also to the children who attended the presentation,” Villegas said.

Photo Credit: Connor Murphy | Daily Texan Staff

The University is introducing new efforts to increase four-year graduation rates following the highest freshman retention rates in UT history last fall.

David Laude, senior vice provost for Enrollment and Graduation Management, said the addition of mental health counselors to academic advising offices, the launch of a four-year graduation rate help desk and a campus-wide initiative to “reclaim senior year” will contribute to increasing the likelihood that students might be able to graduate in four years.

Laude said he gave a $3 million grant to the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs to establish mental health counselors in the advising offices of the McCombs School of Business, the College of Natural Sciences, the Cockrell School of Engineering, the School of Undergraduate Studies and the College of Liberal Arts.

“The grant is from this notion of four-year graduation rates,” Laude said. “This is part of the appreciation that graduating in four-years isn’t about academics.”

The four-year graduation rate help desk will launch online next week. The virtual desk will provide students’ answers to frequently asked questions, put students in contact with the right people to help with various issues and address disputes that may arise when a student petitions to graduate.

“Very often, you find that the lines of communication are just not what they need to be,” Laude said. “What if, instead, they had a real certainty that answers to their questions about how to graduate in four years, or whenever they wanted, could be realized?”

According to Laude, another initiative the University is pursuing is a requirement for students to identify a senior year, as opposed to the existing system, in which students apply for graduation a month before the end of the semester. 

“Back when you were a junior in high school, did it occur to you that, when you were a senior, you might or might not graduate?” Laude said. “No, of course not. UT, over time, has eroded that perspective … If you wanted to stay another semester, you did. If you wanted to stay another year, you did. If you couldn’t get a course, well, you couldn’t get a course.”

These initiatives are in addition to others launched by Laude in his role as “champion of graduation rates,” a position created through recommendations from the Task Force on Undergraduate
Graduation Rates.

In the summer of 2011, President William Powers Jr. created the task force, which was charged with recommending ways for UT to increase its four-year graduation rate to 70 percent by 2016. Over the past seven years, the four-year graduation rate has fluctuated between 50 and 52 percent.

“Timely graduation benefits every constituent in the educational chain, from parents and students to professors and administrators,” Powers said in a press release from the University following the report’s publication. “What’s more [is] it represents a major savings for students in an age of concern over rising costs.”

The task force produced a final report in February 2012, featuring three main recommendations and an appendix full of smaller ones. Marc Musick, senior associate dean for student affairs in the College of Liberal Arts, conducted research for the task force and wrote the final report.

Musick has overseen the implementation of one of the report’s major recommendations: transforming summer orientation. He also serves on a variety of committees responsible for overseeing some of the smaller recommendations. Musick said he is unsure whether Powers’ goal is feasible.

“The clock started ticking with the class of 2016,” Musick said. “You’re teasing out all the things that are like low hanging fruit — the easy things to fix. The closer you get, the more you’re starting to deal with the things that are really hard to fix.”

Starting this April, students’ course registration time will be based on their level of degree completion, rather than strictly their classification as a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior. The new registration times will be based on the percent of their degree students have completed. Students within a year of graduation will register during the first two days — a time slot previously filled by all students with more than 90 hours undertaken. 

Although there is some uncertainty among students about how this change will affect their ability to grab a seat in required courses, this is a positive change in registration that will better suit students with few requirements left — especially if those classes have limited seats. True seniors who are checking off the last empty spots in their degree plans will have a better shot, although those considered seniors purely by credit hours — and not near graduation — will be pushed back to a later registration time. That might upset students who racked up college credit in high school and benefited under the old system, but those students’ degree progress will not be discounted by the change. If they are further along than their peers, they will still register before them. This change is actually a more specific version of the classification system used previously, in that now only students who are truly seniors will have preferential access to classes. Students in dual degrees or certificate programs will be placed according to the degree that is furthest along.

David Laude, senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management, said the change would reduce the number of students registering during the first two days from 39 percent to 22.5 percent, meaning more students who consider themselves in their final year of studies would have the first chance to register. No senior should have to spend an extra semester on campus, paying for tuition or housing because they missed out on a single requirement for graduation — and unfortunately that happens far too often. 

Vice Provost and Registrar Shelby Stanfield said the degree audit system is updated often to prevent glitches and will be monitored to make sure the completion rates accurately reflect student progress. 

The percentage-based system will also eliminate other disadvantages unintentionally caused by the previous system.

“The last system made it so that it took your classification, alphabetized the last names of people with that classification, and attributed registration times that way,” said chemistry senior Katherine Teasdale. “So a sophomore with a senior classification and last name beginning with A would register ahead of seniors of last name Z who might really be about to graduate. This new system does away with the alphabet and only looks at your degree status. It’s much more fair, especially since my name is at the back of the alphabet.”

We hope the change doesn’t discourage the most ambitious of students on campus who have multiple degree plans — if they are pursuing both simultaneously, they may have to register later than students who are on a single degree plan and are further along. The students who may be impacted the most are those switching from one major to another and in essence starting over. Although any core credit would still count toward a degree program they would register later, the introductory courses to any degree are generally more open than upper-division classes seniors might need. We don’t want to see this new system discourage students from exploring new majors or forcing them to stick with one they are unhappy with, but registration time alone should never be a determining factor in such a decision.

Laude said the University is working to expand the change to notify students when they are within a year of graduation. With this feature, students would be able to confirm that they plan to graduate on time and their senior status would be ensured. This, Laude said, goes to show that the University is not making a random change in its registration policy but is instead working toward relieving a few of the many issues students encounter when selecting classes. This change obviously won’t perfect the registration process, but the improvement is worth supporting.