By Travis Taylor
The stress and worry for students that they won’t get the classes they need can cause them to engage in practices to beat the system – like holding classes.
Students who hold classes register for classes they don’t intend to take to create a space in the class for friends with later registration dates.
Once the friend can register, the student who held the class drops it, leaving an open space that might have been filled by other students with earlier registration times had it not been held.
Dr. Wesley Null, vice provost for undergraduate education, said the practice of holding classes is a serious problem because it is in violation of Baylor’s Honor Code.
“That’s submitting dishonest information to the university that is unfairly advantaging one student over another,” Null said.
“Students are expected to register for the classes they need and no more.”
Some students, as members of priority registration groups, register at special early times. Dallas senior Travis Parker said students not in a priority registration group are at a disadvantage to get the in-demand classes.
“It’s just the availability of classes and how there’s so many well-known teachers who aren’t necessarily easier, but are just good teachers,” Parker said. “Sophomore year you’re required to take so many prerequisites and there’s a lot of competition for those teachers. I was subjected to a terrible teacher and was not getting as good of an education just because I didn’t get to register as soon as others.”
Parker said registration status can be tied to academic performance.
“Getting registered early allows you to get a better GPA,” Parker said. “If you have an easier teacher, or you get a better teacher, you’re going to get a better class grade than you would if you get a harder teacher who doesn’t teach as well.”
College Station senior Carlos Aguilar, despite not being part of any priority registration group, said he has been asked to hold classes because of his status as a senior.
As a senior, Aguilar registered in the Nov. 5-6 registration group, earlier than some other students.
“I’m not holding them, though,” Aguilar said.
Aguilar said he was asked to hold classes by two other students. Aguilar said in his experience, HP classes are the classes most likely to be held because of the small section sizes.
“Going back to freshman year, I couldn’t ever get an HP,” Aguilar said.
Waco sophomore Ryan Reid, who registered early as a dependent of a Baylor employee, said registering early allowed him to take classes that usually fill quickly in the registration process.
“Last semester I was in a backpacking course as a freshman that usually fills up a few minutes after registration begins,” Reid said. “I was the only underclassman in that class.”
Reid said people often ask him to hold classes because of his early registration status.
“It’s not the most practical thing, but some people do it and you can’t really stop it,” Reid said.
Some students may feel their only option is to have other students hold classes for them, Reid said.
“It might be an insurance thing,” Reid said. “Usually it’s an HP, but they normally get into it.”
Null said depending on the facts of the case regarding a student who is holding classes, the Honor Code allows for a number of different punishments for a violation, including “anything from dismissal from the university to a warning.”
Null also said students who have priority status when registering could lose the privilege of early registration if it was discovered that they were holding classes.
While the registration technology in place allows the office of the registrar to track student registration records, Null said it would be difficult to know for sure whether a student was holding classes.
“We would have to have hard evidence before we would move forward with something,” Null said.
Null said the early registration system that is currently in place is designed to encourage students to stay on a 15-to 16-hours-per-semester track so students can graduate on time.
“If they’re a freshman or sophomore, it may be that they need to put off a class or two,” Null said. “But as they move up, the chances of them getting into these classes will get better.”
Baylor registrar Jonathan Helm said the office of the registrar is looking for ways to prevent students from holding classes, including implementing an electronic waitlist program.
The program would place students in a queue for classes that are full; when space opens up, the first student on the waitlist would either be automatically placed in the class or given an unspecified amount of time to join the class.
Helm said this program may be implemented in the next few years.
For now, Helm said he recommends communicating with the professor of the course and with the department chair to petition to be let into a full class.
“There’s nothing that says that the department chair must or should let the students into the class, but there’s nothing wrong with the students at least asking if that’s possible,” Helm said.
Null said that students are also welcome to contact him with any specific concerns or comments about registration.
“I want to make sure we’re offering enough sections for students to register for classes,” Null said.
Jessica Chia contributed to this article.