UTSA’s enrollment policies will be changing to improve overall quality and effectiveness. These changes are intended to help students who have faced graduation issues as a result of enrollment policies.
“I was wait-listed for a preservation theory class last semester, but I did not realize the wait-list period for a class was short,” recent graduate Claudia Reyes said. “So when I was dropped from the list I had to register for a class I didn’t need, and the Financial Aid Services charged me because I was taking an additional course.”
Starting fall 2014, UTSA is changing drop-course dates to the end of the ninth week and improving its registration priority system based on the credit hours students have completed.
“The thought behind this was that the present policy of (dropping courses at) the end of the semester promotes re-taking courses as a success strategy for our students because they are stringing it out longer and prolonging their degree completion,” said Dr. Joe DeCristoforo, associate vice president and university registrar.
Originally the drop rate change was meant for freshmen, but a university committee decided to expand it for all undergraduates. Institutional research data showed the later drop date did not have a significant impact on the students or their grades. UTSA believes that this earlier date will help students be pro-active in deciding which courses are helping them.
Students will be notified of this change before registering for Fall 2014 classes and in the information bulletin published in late spring. The academic advising community will also be informing students of the new drop-date.
Another change is that all courses will have a waitlist that will be extended until the late registration deadline. “Students who register, or try to register, for a class that’s closed will be given the opportunity to waitlist for the class based on timing,” said DeCristoforo.
The advantage for students on a waitlist is that when a seat is available they are notified and have 24 hours to make a decision. If students do not make a decision they will lose their place in the waitlist.
The university is unable to create additional sections for classes because of limited resources. Availability of faculty and space, and the time of day students are willing to take classes is also a factor.
“A lot of students prefer to have classes at the peak demand time, which is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and we can’t offer everything during that time; just before and after that time (frame),” says DeCristoforo.
Another change occurring in UTSA’s enrollment policy is a limit on the number of times students can attempt gateway courses.
A gateway course is a critical course that students must pass to advance towards their degree and are considered must-pass courses.
“If students do not pass these courses, then it could have a detrimental effect on their timely pursuit of an academic major,” explains DeCristoforo.
The university has decided that departments will designate four courses as gateway courses. If a student fails to earn the minimum required grade for a course in two attempts he or she must change majors.
UTSA will also require students who are on financial aid and who want to withdraw from the university to first counsel with Financial Aid Services. One reason for the requirement is because students may not know possible benefits that can prevent them from withdrawing.
DeCristoforo believes Financial Aid can help students reconsider leaving school by providing resources to help those students stay and complete their courses.
The Office of the Registrar is planning to change the order in which students register for their classes. In the future, registration priority will be given to students based on how many credit hours they have completed.
“There’s a strong push nationally, and also in Texas, to incentivize students to graduate in a timely manner, and there’s been a lot of thought and careful consideration on how to encourage students to succeed academically,” says DeCristoforo.