Nicholas Hanscom

Students, staff express mixed views toward online course registration process

January 20, 2021

“Any time a new procedure is initiated for the first time, there are bound to be growing pains,” counselor Mark Wasik said. “And, I think there are both pros and cons to the online registration process.”

With the irregular nature of the current school year, DGN has adopted a new functional process to form students’ future class schedules. Beginning Dec. 21, freshmen, sophomores and juniors had to employ Home Access Center (HAC) to request a working schedule for their upcoming DGN school year. However, students and counselors have held varied opinions about the novel procedure.


A “New” Process 

According to counseling and student support services (CSSS) chairperson David King, DGN has not only taken up the new registration process to tailor to its regular shift between remote and hybrid learning environments but also to ensure the proper fidelity to the world’s current health protocols.

“Much like other changes this year, District 99 had to think creatively on how to access students, provide information and be available to students for support,” King said. “The decision to make these changes happened in early fall and was a joint district decision. At the time, there was much uncertainty as to how the CSSS [department] would access students in a remote and even hybrid setting while accounting for social distancing. Specifically for DGN, counselors’ offices do not meet the necessary safety guidelines for students and counselors to work.”

While DGN has never had prior experience with this virtual practice, counselor Cynthia Karmik explained that it isn’t necessarily “new,” with other districts utilizing similar processes at their institutions.

“There are other high schools in the area that complete student registration through some sort of online process,” Karmik said. “This is not a new process in general, but a new process for District 99 and DGN and DGS students participating in it.” 

King added that the district employed the online course registration process to promote more conversation between students, families and counselors to make more thoughtful class selections.

“The intended effects [of virtual course registration] were to provide support and guidance to all students and families. The course selection process is a student decision, but should also be discussed with many stakeholders such as parents [or] guardians, teachers and counselors,” King said. “The intention of this process was to encourage more input and discussion on a student’s request [for] courses.


Stress, Irritation and Difficulty

While carrying neutral views to District 99’s online course registration overall, junior Taran Mellacheruvu still expressed disappointment with some of the affair’s attributes. 

“The online registration process seemed rushed. I wish that we had a more fully-fledged program to allow conferences between students and counselors before self-requesting our courses,” Mellacheruvu said. “That would allow face-to-face contact and perhaps gives students a different lens through which to view their choice, which I find important.”   

I wish that we had a more fully-fledged program to allow conferences between students and counselors before self-requesting our courses. That would allow face-to-face contact and perhaps gives students a different lens through which to view their choice, which I find important.

— Taran Mellacheruvu

As it turns out, students are not the only ones who have faced complications with the self-request process. Karmik outlined the added stress she possessed due to some students not adhering to the expectations and deadlines of the procedure.

“The challenge has been with students who have not followed through with their course registration and did not go into HAC to complete it by the initial Jan. 8 deadline,” Karmik said. “Subsequently, the registration window was kept open that weekend to give students a little additional time. Counselors are reaching out to these students individually to complete their registration.”

Nevertheless, issues also have appeared to lay elsewhere within the virtual registration system. Junior Jade Toledano noted an inconvenience she faced, which has granted her irritation and anxiety. 

“I had some problems with HAC and the self-request procedure because some electives were locked. So, apparently, I [was] taking 9.5 credits next year,” Toledano said. “This has caused me some annoyance and stress due to the fact that I’m the type of person who likes to have everything done ahead of time and know well that there’s nothing hanging over my head.”


Efficiency, Control and Latitude

Although some have experienced complications with remote class registration, others, like junior Madeline Antonio, have highlighted the opposite. Antonio found the process to be simple and more efficient than the standard enrollment practice appointed in the past.

“For me, self-requesting courses went fairly smooth. I thought that the process was fairly easy to understand with the help of the tutorial videos,” Antonio said. “What surprised me was how efficient it was overall. I had a plan for the classes I wanted to take and I was able to sign up for them in a short period of time, as opposed to taking a whole period to do so.”

On the other hand, Wasik explained that online registration has both offered students more freedom with their decisions and additional opportunity to discuss their options and plans with family.

“Students are given more autonomy and responsibility in their course selection,” Wasik said. “We are hopeful that by registering independently at home, more conversations and involvement [with] family are taking place.”

Antonio built on Wasik’s perspective, stressing the virtual enrollment process not only has caused students to be more authoritative but also has permitted more flexibility with their choices. 

“I believe that this new process is beneficial to students since it allows us to take more responsibility and time thinking about our schedules for next year,” Antonio said. “And, it allows us to easily change our minds about classes later and still be able to make the change.”


The Future

In the end, District 99 does not know whether it will take on online course registration in the coming years. King asserted that, if it does, it will work to refine the process further and make it more manageable and worthwhile for students. However, he noted that everything has yet to be decided. 

“With anything new, we will need to debrief as a department, building and district to determine the positive aspects or barriers this process caused,” King said. “Once this takes place, we will have a better understanding to see if we continue with this practice. Meeting the needs of all of our students is of the utmost importance, [and] we have already learned much from this process that can be improved.”

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