Students Remain Frustrated with Multi-Phase Process as Open Enrollment Begins

Jocelyn Buggy ‘22

News Editor

This semester, the College of the Holy Cross implemented a new multi-phase enrollment schedule for Spring 2021 course registration.  According to a Nov. 13 e-mail from Provost Margaret N. Freije, the College has been exploring a multi-phase process since Fall 2019 given the consistent issues that arise from enrollment each semester.  “With every enrollment period,” Provost Freije wrote to students, “we have a significant number of students who are not able to complete their enrollment in the initial round.  Indeed some students are only able to enroll in one or two courses.  The reality of our traditional approach to enrollment is that nearly all seats in high demand classes fill within 90 seconds.  We are piloting this multi-stage process because we believe that it will make it more likely that more students will be able to get at least one or two of their top choices.”  As part of this two-phase approach, students registered for two classes during each of the two phases, as opposed to the traditional four at once.  These phases followed schedules that appointed students specific enrollment days and times based on their graduation dates.   

While the new process was designed to address the consistent problems surrounding enrollment at Holy Cross, it was not well-received by many upperclassmen.  After the Class of 2022 enrolled on Nov. 17, Class Dean Patricia Kramer sent an e-mail to third-year students with the subject line “Challenging Enrollment.”  “Today, many of you are having difficulty finding courses that fit your interests and/or needs,” Dean Kramer wrote.  “I regret that enrollment issues are adding to what is already a very stressful semester.”  She reminded the Junior class that the College had anticipated many more students being able to go abroad in the spring than what will actually be able to happen.  Because of this, the College needs to accommodate all of the Juniors who are now unable to go abroad.  “As programs abroad have been cancelled,” Dean Kramer wrote, “we have been working with departments to find ways to offer additional seats.  This is in progress and the enrollment numbers are being monitored.”  She stated that enrollment difficulties were not a result of the new multi-phase process, and closed her message by telling the Class of 2022, “I have let others know that you are frustrated.”

One of these frustrated students is Michaela Faris, a third-year Psychology major from Natick, MA.  Michaela got into zero of the 10 classes that were in her enrollment backpack after the second phase of enrollment and was even falsely validated by Star for a class that one Department Chair later told her she was ineligible to take.  Michaela told The Spire that while she understands the theoretical benefit of the multi-phase process, “it did not improve the dreadful enrollment experience overall because many students remain shut out of the classes they need to take, as indicated by Dean Kramer’s email.”  

Graphic by Hui Li ’21.

“Being a third-year at the College, I did not expect enrollment to still be so difficult.  Holy Cross encourages students to broaden their academic horizons, yet they make it virtually impossible to explore classes outside of our majors.  Professors and Department Chairs have not been flexible as I have tried to get into classes.  This is extremely frustrating, given both the cost of taking Holy Cross classes and the fact that I am now an upperclassman.  This is not an unpopular opinion from students, and I have heard disapproval of the Holy Cross enrollment process from professors themselves.  I truly would have hoped the administration and faculty would be more flexible considering the difficult fall semester and that most classes will be held online for Spring 2021.”

For students like Michaela who faced challenges during their regular enrollment phases, Open Enrollment serves as a third chance to adjust their schedule.  The Open Enrollment period for Spring 2021 began on Dec. 3, 2020 and will continue until Feb. 7, 2020.  During this time, some seats reserved by class year as well as those reserved for majors, minors, and concentrations become open to all students.  However, the limited number of overall available seats in courses remains an issue.  “I think Open Enrollment leaves false hope for the students looking for classes and provides an excuse for professors to delay their responses to these individuals,” Michaela told The Spire.  

“Professors’ default response to students looking to join their classes is telling them to ‘try for open enrollment,’ even though all Holy Cross students know that Open Enrollment is rarely successful.  This gives professors the ‘out’ of not having to add students to their courses and provides students with a false hope that classes will magically open during this period.  I appreciate Open Enrollment because I was at least able to finally get four classes, but my schedule is far from ideal.  Students definitely should not rely on Open Enrollment to get the classes they truly want.”

When asked how she thinks the College could improve its enrollment process, Michaela stated that she believes faculty and Department Chairs need to be more flexible, transparent, and responsive to students about the stress of enrollment.  “I understand it is impossible for students to get every class they want all the time,” Michaela said, “but the administration should work to make this process as transparent and stress-free as possible.  Enrollment should not be so difficult, especially for upperclassmen.  With more classes online come Spring 2021, many people like myself are struggling to understand why professors can’t be more flexible with class caps to accommodate their already stressed and anxious students.”

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