Solutions to ‘course shopping’

The March 20th edition of The Northerner addressed the issues of course shopping and minimal full-time and part-time students subsidizing the students taking 13 or more hours per semester.

A policy of an additional $67 charge (some might say penalty) per hour over 16 as a solution to course shopping was discussed. I believe a valid point was raised, “What about course shoppers below this level?” I would like to add that course shopping is not necessarily limited to the full-time level but at the part-time level as well. Students registering for nine or more hours are still able to drop to six hours to meet minimal financial aid requirements.

The way in which President Votruba’s quote, “We have students saying they can’t get into courses, and we see empty seats at the end of the semester,” was incorporated into one of the articles, leaves the impression that course shopping is the cause of this problem. It may well be the primary cause of the situation, but much of course shopping may stem from student’s lack of knowledge about what they are signing up for.

Course shopping, however, is not the only cause of the empty seats. There are also students who discover in the first couple weeks of class that they have bitten off more than they can chew. And considering the percentage of non-traditional students, no doubt there are instances that requires dropping one or more classes.

Also, I think somewhere, someone has missed a point in regards to the number of people the extra charges will affect. The attitude of only 8% is simply a way to manipulate numbers to give the appearance that it will affect a relatively small number of people. When in actuality, as one of the articles points out, in excess of 1000 students would be involved if the policy were implemented now. A group of 1000 people is not insignificant and equates to approximately 1 in every 12 students. Even if only a modest percentage of these people with other supporters were to rally together, they could mount a sizable campaign against the policy.

Dave Emery’s belief, that asking your advisor about specific courses being as effective or more effective than course shopping, is a bit unrealistic. For one, it implies that advisors know the details, expectations, etc. about all the courses and how each professor conducts it. Personally, I doubt that this is the case in their own department let alone other departments. And two, advisors may not be able to communicate another professor’s personality and style of conducting class. Not everything I have to say is a criticism. I actually have quite a list of suggestions to deal with some of the issues that have been raised.

Info about classes:

-Blackboard is WAY underutilized. (I realize that Blackboard is new to NKU, but I found previously that Sophia was also.) Even if professors do not care to use it for their classes, at a minimum if a syllabus was posted, potential students can get some kind of picture of a class regarding expectations, typical book requirements, assignment loads, etc.

-I have in the past talked to or e-mailed a professor of a class I am considering to ask about the class. For the most part professors have tried to be helpful. But if too many students engage in this practice, professors may be overwhelmed with requests for information.

Closed classes:

-Advisors could educate advisees about handling closed classes. Ex.:

-Frequent checks of Norse Express for reopened seats through the end of the 50% refund period.

-Check with professor in reference to frequency students tend to drop in first week.

-Configure Norse Express with waiting list system.

-It would put student first in line into a reopened seat, then send automated notice to student’s campus email account with deadline to take action to confirm before seat is lost to next person in line.

-If the list is lengthy, departments could consider adding another section, particularly if list is long by end of priority registration, or some other designated span of time.

-The departments could use such a system to track trends over time to see if a course is consistently in high demand. This would give a more solid picture of how in demand a course is rather than the more subjective information provided by a few students complaining they cannot get into a class.

Class shoppers vs. legitimate high volume students:

-Configure Norse Express registration to flag any student’s registration with excess of 16 hours. (This one will likely draw plenty of fire from students and likely should only be implemented following the initiation of some type of system whereby students have access to reliable information of the nature they are seeking through course shopping.)

-Require confirmation in system by someone by designated deadline or be dropped from excess classes.

-Send out warning via email and/or snail mail about deadline.

12 hours and under students subsidizing 13+ hour students:

-With full-time status remaining at 12 hours, increase cut off for maximum number hours paid to 13. This would more evenly and fairly distribute the burden.

I realize some of these ideas may be quite involved to set up and/or maintain, but if the university is truly interested in addressing the issues presented in articles, it should take under consideration any suggestions that have merit and feasibility.

Lou Stuntz

Senior, 2nd Educ. Soc. Studies