Before moving from India to the United States, University of Minnesota student Isha Mody said her biggest concern was class registration.
Mody, like the majority of international students, attended one of the last freshman orientation groups in August. When she browsed classes on Schedule Builder in late July, prior to her arrival in Minnesota, Mody said she panicked. She thought she was not going to get any of the classes she wanted because, by that time, several classes were already at full capacity.
This issue has appeared in student satisfaction surveys, said Beth Lingren Clark, associate vice provost for strategic enrollment initiatives. After attending orientation, students fill out an orientation evaluation which asks if they are satisfied with the course schedule they end up with. Past survey results indicated that international students had lower satisfaction with the registration process compared with other students, Clark said. The highest satisfaction ratings came from students who attended June registration groups.
“I understand the inequity around access,” Clark said. “... We’ve been working with [International Student and Scholar Services] to think about ways to explore that registration satisfaction process.”
Staff at ISSS and the Office of Undergraduate Education are discussing conducting listening sessions this semester to gain more insight about international student experiences.
“We are discussing using the information from surveys to further explore student experiences and what strategies we could use to make improvements,” a statement from ISSS read.
Though some departments hold seats and release them throughout the summer, some students in later orientation groups still struggle to find open seats in their desired classes.
Mody, who is a first-year psychology major, had been eyeing a microeconomics course last summer, which quickly filled up. This was a particular source of stress for her, as she had been considering adding a second major in economics.
“I was so stressed about it,” Mody said. “I was like, ‘I’m not going to get any of the classes I want.’”
Like Mody, international student Yara Ghazal also registered for classes in August and struggled as a result. Though Ghazal prefers in-person classes, her schedule includes an online class and a hybrid one that meets in person once a week.
“[The online class] is a required course to be able to declare my major in the spring, so I had to complete it,” Ghazal said.
Ghazal, who describes herself as a planner, said she had already put together her schedule prior to attending orientation. She said her current schedule looks completely different than what she had planned because of the traffic on classes.
When it came to smaller classes like honors and freshman seminars, Ghazal and Mody said it was especially difficult to find open spots within the 15 to 20 seats available per seminar. The seminars that interested them were already filled by the time they got to register.
“There were a lot of other things that were stressful, but the main thing I was stressed about was I’m coming here for education. If I don’t get the classes I want, then what am I going to do?” Mody said.