Communication courses ‘not flexible’ for students

Twice a year, Northern Kentucky University students log on to register for their spring and fall semester courses. Before the registration, students partake in tireless planning to get the ideal schedule. Ideal schedules, however, are becoming an extremely rare thing for students majoring in communication-related degrees.

“Enrollment management has always been a bit crazy at this school,” said Department of Communication adviser Jenny Wagner.

The Department of Communication, which consists of journalism, public relations, communication studies, electronic media and broadcasting and media informatics majors, is one of the fastest growing departments at NKU. However, when it comes to scheduling for these majors it seems the department is unable to keep up with that growth.

“The signs on the way into campus that say ‘flexible scheduling’ aren’t true,” said Kaitlyn Davis, third year journalism major. “It’s not very flexible at all.”

It’s gotten so bad that Davis is even considering switching universities to complete her degree.

With roughly 850 undergraduate students seeking degrees from the department, not to mention numerous minors and general education requirements, the department is scheduling for 4,000-5,000 students per semester.

Those students are  an increase to the department, up 35 percent from six years ago, explained Communication Chair Zachary Hart.

According to Wagner, many students think the department heads just don’t care, but that is far from the case. They do care and they acknowledge that there are issues, the biggest being a lack of funding.

“I wish we had more money,” said Hart.

The department’s lack of extra funding affects the ability to keep up with the increasing numbers and demand for more course sections. Though more faculty would help the problem, funding just barely allows for the department to keep up with payment for the already existing faculty.

Though the problems are evident, Hart is confident that they’ll be able to “resolve most situations.”

Hart, along with Kevin Kirby, dean of the College of Informatics, meets monthly with all advisers to get a feel for what changes they need to make to be sure every student is successful.

“[Hart and Kirby] are extremely supportive,” Wagner said.

The department heads are also looking to technology to make necessary changes.

MyNKU’s more advanced system allows  students to place courses in a registration cart, which advisers can access. This gives the department the ability to see how high the demand for a class may be and potentially increase the number of sections to prepare for that demand.

While the department is making attempts to improve the quality of scheduling, Wagner and Hart also stress that students need to make their difficulties known and not just express their issues to other students.

“We’re never going to be able to meet everyone’s personal needs,” Hart said, “but we do listen and try to figure out alternatives for every student.”

It’s about “patience and understanding,” Hart explained. Demanding without understanding will get students nowhere; it’s about making your problems known in a kinder manner.

Students also need to keep an eye out once courses begin, as other students drop they can sneak in. Also, talk to advisers about getting special permits into courses, especially seniors who need a course to graduate.

There is no immediate solution to the problem. Hart does intend to make sure the department is making constant strides to improve.

“We want to work with students,” Hart guaranteed, “and want you to be successful.”