Professor of Physics and Registrar Head Chuck Schulz has been directed to draft the design for a new self-enrollment system. The draft design will then be discussed by administration and faculty.
The earliest Schulz predicted the system could be implemented is for pre-enrollment for Winter Term 2018.
The system will replace the current one where advisors enter the student’s choices for classes during, or after, a meeting. Among ACM schools currently, only Knox and Ripon do not use self-enrollment, according to Schulz.
“Pending any faculty responses we haven’t heard, there have been no strong objections to it,” Schulz said. “The comments have mostly been about features they like about the current enrollment system, and they would want to see them not lost.”
Schulz plans to include the features faculty said they wanted to keep. One feature he mentioned was ensuring students who are closed-out once will get first priority for the class in the future. A waiting list for those closed-out, in case others drop the class, is another possibility.
At other schools, students enroll as cohorts, with each year having a certain day to enroll. Schulz said Knox may adopt a similar system.
“What we want to be careful of is that courses that are important for first and second year students don’t all get taken up by juniors and seniors,” Schulz said. One possibility would be to have a certain number of seats set aside for students who need the class.
Professor of Computer Science John Dooley said he was concerned that students would not talk to advisors as much.
“It’s my job to give them advice and to show them options and opportunities for them in curriculum, things they may not have thought of themselves,” Dooley said.
He worried that self-enrollment might mean less impactful meetings, or that student may end up not meeting with advisors.
However, as Dooley and Schulz mentioned, the current plan is to have advisors first meet with students, and then release them to pre-enroll. Only students who had been released would be able to enroll.
Not all students are equally prepared for the meetings though, which could raise issues with self-enrollment.
“Some of them come in and they haven’t even looked at the schedule,” said Dooley, “and some of them come in and they’ve got it all written down, they know exactly what they’re going to take. They’ve thought about it, they have a vision of where they’re going and they are marching down that road.”
Assistant Professor of Physics Nathalie Haurberg went to Knox for her undergraduate studies, and now sees the other side of the enrollment system as a professor and advisor.
“One of our concerns is that we don’t want to be treating students as though they can’t make their own decisions,” Haurberg said, “but as a student I liked it because it made me feel less like I was guessing when it came to enrolling in classes.”
Now as an advisor, she still enjoys the collaborative nature of the current set up. She sees the point of a self-enrollment system, but like Dooley, worries that students may not seek as much input from advisors.
“It’s much harder to change someone’s mind if they’ve already clicked some buttons and made a decision than if they’re just having a conversation with you,” Haurberg said.
The hope is that the system will actually strengthen the advising system, as students would bear more responsibility for knowing what courses they need to take, and allowing advising meetings to not solely focus on choosing courses.
“We’re working toward making Knox better in every way,” Schulz said.