It is a student's worst nightmare: logging onto the computer to register for next semester's classes only to see a notice stating that registration is currently impossible because the student's financial package has not yet been paid. Now, under a new registration holds policy devised by the College's Enrollment Management Team, students will no longer need to worry about holds on their registration preventing them from getting into their first choice of classes.
"The posture has always officially been that students have to be on schedule with their payments in order to register for classes," Assistant to the Controller of Student Accounts David Laczko said. "To a certain extent we've always modified that; the main difference now is that we're trying to make the holds system less punitive in nature. The idea is to not interfere with classes."
"Now instead of clearing all debts before you register, you just have to sit down with a financial counselor to come up with a plan to meet your needs by the beginning of the next semester," senior Matthew Green, student assistant to President of the College Nancy Dye, said. Green serves on the Enrollment Management Team.
"If you receive a hold letter now, you can get off hold in the usual ways - by settling your accounts, for example - or by seeing a financial counselor who has the power to remove the hold so you can register on time," Dye said.
Letters informing students of holds placed on their registration direct them to make appointments with Manager of Student Financial Counseling Todd Rasmussen, who was hired this summer after the College created a new position to help deal with students' financial difficulties.
Under the more flexible new policy, which was devised over the summer and begins with this registration period, students also have more time to straighten out their accounts since the Office of Student Accounts has extended its hours through registration period. The office will be open from 4:30 to 6:30 and 7:30 to 9 p.m. Nov. 11 through 13 and 18 through 20 to accomodate students who are in classes during its regular daytime hours.
"We're trying to resolve financial problems for students. Oftentimes it's not the student's fault; there's just paperwork that's not flowing. It's been taken to the step in the past where you have to have x number of dollars or you don't register. Now we have a plan and place to take care of a hold in a timely fashion; we're trying to be more proactive," Laczko said.
"I think [this new policy] is a very good move and it's something we've been trying to work toward to make this a less difficult thing. We've been concerned about the mechanisms by which the college operates. Registration holds have understandably been a big source of unhappiness in the past," Dye said.
Several students who experienced registration holds attested to that unhappiness. "Registration holds are another example of the ineptitude of the Oberlin administration," sophomore Emily Osterweil said.
"The registration holds are another reason why Oberlin has such a low retention rate of minority students and lower-income students," said Andrea McManus, who dropped out of Oberlin at the end of her first year last year.
"The biggest problem for students was that they couldn't always get the classes they needed by registering in a timely fashion," Laczko said. "The Enrollment Management Team sat down and said, OK, we need to really address this issue from the standpoint of not making holds a problem for students trying to get classes. Hopefully this is a happy medium between getting something done and not interfering with classes."
Copyright © 1997, The Oberlin Review.
Volume 126, Number 8, November 7, 1997
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