MCC Daily Tribune Archive

Learning Abstract - Student Success Anomalies: Why Do We Do The Things We Do?

Student Success Anomalies: Why Do We Do the Things We Do?
By Hank Dunn and Anna Mays


Numerous pressures face the modern community college, not the least of
which is the need to promote student-learning success. Many institutions now focus on being learning colleges. However, even as institutions take proactive steps to become learning centered, some foster practices that not only do not contribute to learning, but detract from it. The current common practice of allowing students to register after the term begins, or after the first class meeting, is one of those historical practices that need to be examined in the light of promoting student learning. Colleges need to reevaluate what “registering late” actually means to them and to student success.


American higher education institutions offer late registration
opportunities to students on a multitude of grounds. However, there are
three major reasons:

* Community colleges are access driven,

* Colleges might lose FTE if they don't offer late registration options, and

* It has always been done this way.

Historically, many colleges have institutionalized the late registration process. They have not only promoted late registration, but they created myriad ways in which students could legitimately enroll in classes after the term has begun or even after a first class meeting. Most people believe that providing access to students is of paramount importance to the community college movement. One way to provide this accessibility to the largest number of students is by allowing students to register late.

Colleges have also institutionalized the belief that student behavior
patterns cannot be changed. Therefore, some colleges look at the number of students who register at the last minute and then do a mental calculation of the lost FTE (subsidy) that would occur if these students were required to register earlier and didn't. For many institutions, this rationale is perhaps the strongest for not changing the way they register students. After all, in today's tough budget environment, what would they do if they lost enrollment?

Finally, colleges continue to register students late because that is the way that registration has always been conducted. If colleges have been doing this for 20, 30, or 40 years, how can it be so wrong? By inference, colleges believe either that it is the right thing to do or that it would take too much time and energy to change.

But establishing and promoting late registration for these reasons creates a host of learning challenges of which faculty are all too well aware and sends an unintentional message that access is more important than learning, which begins at the first class meeting.

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Dr. Susan Salvador
Office for Student Services