Advising Day just passed, which means all students (apart from outgoing seniors) spent much of their most recent break day trying to figure out what classes to take next fall. Of course, this requires the use of the course catalog if students want to know what classes to take for REACH, or for their majors, minors or concentrations. This can be a tedious process, as students need to figure out what classes are available, if there are any prerequisites, any conflicts with sports or jobs, if the class can take care of both REACH and major requirements and so much more. It’s a process that ultimately puts a lot of pressure on students, and there should be an easier way that students can select their courses.
One major thing that should be changed about course selection involves the classes that students are selected for in their first semester at Mercyhurst. As students are aware, during their first semester as a student, their schedule is pre-determined for them, but they are free to switch around their classes as they please. For example, when I started at Mercyhurst, I was undeclared, but I declared my major shortly thereafter. One of my pre-selected classes was an introductory course on management, but that wasn’t necessary for my major, so I changed it to an introductory course on public history, which much better suited my major. While this is the case for most undeclared students, they should have the opportunity to select their classes in their first semester just like they are able to for the rest of their college careers. That way, students still have a chance to shop around for classes that might push them towards the major that they are looking for.
Additionally, in Self Service, there should be a way for students to access the courses that they have already taken so that they know what they need to take next. In the course catalog on Self Service, the courses for each subject remain in numerical order, so it’s more difficult for students to remember which classes they have and haven’t taken. If there was a way that the completed courses were placed in the beginning of the course catalog for each subject, that would give students an easier way of figuring out the classes they need to take moving forward.
While the current course selection process is still rusty, it has so far been quite effective for students that are looking for courses that interest them and are necessary for their degrees. It is also frustrating when classes are in the course catalog, but then never offered when you need them. That said, all the system needs are a few more tweaks and it would be good to go. Whether it’s by letting students pick their own classes from the very beginning or allowing access to the course catalog for the next semester earlier on, if these changes can be implemented in the future, students could be a lot better off as a result.