Rachel Goldstein 0

MPO Course Registration Policy Change Request

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Dear MPO Team,

It has come to our recent attention that contrary to last year’s policy, 2nd year students will not receive priority for registering for classes designated for 1st years. We understand that MPO will do its best to accommodate our specific class needs through individual requests for admittance into certain courses, and we appreciate that effort. Nonetheless, we know that there is a chance we will not succeed in registering for all of our preferred courses in our final semester at school.

It seems as if MPO and the student body experienced a miscommunication. MPO has stressed that the office explained the change in registration policy to our class during orientation last year, as well as during second semester course registration. Informal polling of a number of the 2nd year class has indicated that not a single student understood this message from the administration. In short, the efforts made by MPO to communicate the change to students proved ineffective. There are many potential causes of this disconnect (many of which are not the fault of MPO), but the fact remains that it left many current 2nd years registering for classes last year under the assumption we could take other “1st year” classes this year. Many of us strategically organized our schedules believing that courses we chose to omit in our first year could be taken in our second year. We are currently relying on that assumption’s accuracy to ensure preparedness for our (fast approaching) careers.

From our perspective, the change in policy unfairly limits the class selection for our year exclusively. Last year, 2nd years gained priority in electing to take “1st year” electives, and filled many of them up before we could register. While MPO made sure to expand course selections and prevent waitlists as much as possible, some of us had to take part-time classes or rearrange our schedules to less ideal times to accommodate the 2nd years participating in the classes slated for us. Because we were not afforded the luxury of registering for “2nd year” classes, we had far fewer options than the year above us. This would be OK if we were to have the same privilege in our 2nd year- but it appears that is not the case.

Fast forward to this year, and we are once again penalized for the change in policy. Instead of reaping the benefits of our seniority status by partaking in the privileges the 2nd years enjoyed last year, we find ourselves limited in our course selection to exclusively “2nd year” classes. Not only does this hinder our ability to fulfill the carefully crafted schedules we created last year, but it demonstrates to us that our class year will serve as the sacrificial lamb as the school transitions to new policies.

In addition, we select our courses often based on ensuring high quality instruction, and not always on our core career track due to that desire. Until the school can ensure 100% top quality instruction, it seems counter intuitive to require students to focus primarily on their choice of career track when selecting courses instead of those that have the highest overall educational impact.

We are counting on our ability to access “1st year” classes. We also feel the need to express that our individual classes’ course selection process has been unfair in comparison to the classes above and below us. We suggest the following as potential solutions to this situation:

  • A guarantee from MPO that any 2nd year requesting to join a “1st year” class will receive access. This could be done by offering the same courses in Terms C and D to grant professors schedule flexibility.
  • Sensitivity to students desiring access to the best teachers by increasing accessibility (either growing class sizes or offering more courses) to the most popular, highest rated professors.
  • The ability to enroll in “1st year” classes in the same manner 2nd years enjoyed last year. If this is made possible, we will partner with MPO to communicate the change to the current 1st years so that they do not experience a repeat misunderstanding of the policy.
  • The ability for 2nd years to enroll in all classes first, and then for 1st years to enroll in ALL classes (“1st” and “2nd year”) as well, allowing neither class to feel slighted in their course selection opportunities. In this circumstance we would also partner with MPO to communicate to 1st years how this policy will change next year.

We understand that curriculum changes occur to better our program, and we do not want to hinder the efforts and progress made by the MPO team on our behalf. That said, we do want to ensure that we are treated fairly, able to take the courses we deem necessary to set ourselves up for future success, and maximize our learning in our last semester at Smith.

MPO has consistently served as an advocate for our class and partner in strengthening the Smith community. We have no doubt that your office will continue to demonstrate these qualities as we collaborate in finding a solution to this challenge.

Thank You,

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