Opinions, Editorials

Boston College Should Equalize Student Pick Times to Guarantee Quality Course Selection for Undergraduates

Boston College should equally distribute course registration appointment times among BC students in order to ensure that each student gets a fair opportunity to register for their desired courses. The current random assignment system means that “unlucky” students who consistently receive late pick times may be held back during registration, preventing them from fulfilling key major or minor requirements. 

Course selection is the process through which students register for courses that fulfill BC’s core curriculum, school-specific requirements, and students’ wide selection of alternate majors and minors. Students are currently randomly assigned course selection appointment times—or “pick times.” Randomized pick times can unfairly prevent students from taking their preferred classes and can even prevent some students from fulfilling requirements for minors and second majors. 

This allows students with earlier pick times to register for their preferred classes quickly, leaving some students with fewer course options than others. 

Currently, class registration appointments are divided by grade and randomized within each undergraduate class, giving students priority based on seniority. Within these divisions, every student has an equal chance of receiving various pick times, which span over two days. While many courses have first-come-first-serve availability, some classes have limits on the number of students per each grade allowed in the course.

The University Registrar should average out the “luck” of BC students’ pick times over the course of their four years at BC, ensuring that a student’s average pick time is approximately the same as everyone else’s by graduation. This ensures that every member of the student body gets an equal opportunity to take the classes they want. 

The University Registrar, led by the newly appointed Bryan Jones, said in an email to The Heights that its randomization “policy was designed to ensure all students had an equal opportunity for an early appointment.” He also wrote that the Registrar seeks to hear feedback about its processes from the BC community. Given that randomization can lead to a variety of unequal outcomes, it is clear that an averaged-out pick time system would be far more effective at guaranteeing equal academic freedom for BC students.

November 6, 2022