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Priority Registration is Dead, Good.

by Anthony Foster

Consider this, you’re a student from a poor, inner-city neighborhood. Your parents barely make enough, and like 61% of Americans, live paycheck to paycheck. You spend your whole childhood under the boot of oppressive poverty.

Then you get the golden ticket, you qualify for substantial student aid, and going to college is now an option. A chance to move up the economic ladder. Your grades are okay, not great, but neither were your teachers. You didn’t get the presidential scholarship, but plenty of others make it worth it.

You made it, and you’re enrolled. It’s registration time for the spring semester. Maybe you need a particular professor, or maybe you have a particular study in mind. Oh, the opportunities.

What will you choose? It’s too late. Those with priority registration devoured it all. Many of whom are presidential scholars.

Some presidential scholars, of which I’m a part of, feel like royalty. We feel entitled. Presidential scholars have worked hard for their position. Fresh out of high school, those with an unweighted 3.4 to 4.0 GPA qualify. As a reward for their grades, they receive priority registration for classes. But high school grades should not be the factor giving students privileges that hurt others.

High school grades are primarily determined by the conditions of the school itself, independent of the student.

Poverty, crime and unemployment near a school seriously affect the level of education received, conditions that disproportionately affect minorities.

People who come from poorer schools receive worse education and score lower on tests. Their grades cannot be fairly measured against those of more affluent ones.

Are we to then punish people based on these grades? If Montclair State University’s goal is to provide equal opportunities to all students, especially those who are disadvantaged by systemic biases, how can we reckon a system that perpetuates exactly the same?

Montclair State has moved to a registration schedule now determined by your class standing, a policy that places students on a vastly more even playing field.

The unthinking reaction some of us presidential scholars felt was one of privilege. We lashed back that we worked hard for this title. The walls were closing in our little palace and the underclasses stormed in.

But there is no other explanation. If we were truly upset about the administration taking away a privilege we worked hard for; we should have no problem with this new process. Those who work hard, those who have a higher class standing, will be able to register earlier.

The defense of presidential scholars clinging to their priority registration is arguing for the continuation of a system that unfairly hurts others.

Now, let’s continue our story. It’s registration time for the spring semester. You didn’t do too hot in the fall. Your time to register is fairly late. But you can change that. This semester you’ll study hard and get the grades you want. And when it’s time to register again you won’t have to worry about a weak high school education holding you back.

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