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Mills students face struggles with cross-registration process

Students can cross-register at UC Berkeley, Saint Mary's of California, and other colleges.
Students can cross-register at UC Berkeley, Saint Mary’s of California, and other colleges.

Mills College Sophomore Nora Roth, an art history major, is currently taking a class at the University of California, Berkeley this semester, because she wanted to take classes Mills would not have enough enrollment for. However, it was not easy. Roth had to work out time in her schedule, transportation and the class she wanted to take at UC Berkeley, eventually realizing that the process was not as smooth as it seems. This happens to many students who go through this process.

With cross-registration, students, after their first year, can elect to take one course per semester that Mills does not offer at neighboring campuses in the Bay Area such as the California College of the Arts; California State University, East Bay; Diablo Valley College; Saint Mary’s College of California; and multiple others. 

Based on data from Mills’ Academic Records, there are a total of 39 students cross-registered for spring and fall 2014, an increase from 34 students in 2013. Assistant Registrar Cristina Wallace thinks that the program is an excellent part of the Mills education.

Despite some challenges with processing the required documents such as the cross-registration form and the permit form, Elisabeth Wade, professor of chemistry, agrees that cross-registering offers valuable opportunities to students.

It can open up options for classes and can be really useful if you need a course that Mills won’t offer that semester,” Wade said.

According to Wallace, cross-registration is also helpful for students considering graduate school at one of the four-year partners because it allows them to get a taste of what that campus life is like. 

“UC Berkeley is by far our most popular partner due to its prestige, proximity to Mills and wide array of course offerings,” Wallace said. 

However, according to students, cross-registering can be a complicated process.

According to the Mills website, along with completing the necessary forms and permits, students must speak to the professor of the class they want to attend and obtain their signature as well as one from their advisor at Mills. Students must arrange their schedules to fit around that class, monitor their credit totals and wait for the registrar’s office at their college of choice to process the documents. 

Roth said that despite UC Berkeley having more class selections, the process to register there was difficult since Mills students cannot register for classes there until the first week of the semester at UC Berkeley, which does not always match-up with Mills’ academic year, among other challenges

“I don’t know how many changes I’ve made to my schedule,” Roth said. “The M Center is kind of a center of misinformation and confusion.”

Junior Sophie DiPaola’s theatre arts major requires cross-registration with the American Conservatory Theatre (ACT) in San Francisco. DiPaola said that the prestigious setting of ACT helps her with networking which she finds very important in her field and challenges her.

“I want to be where everyone’s on the same page,” DiPaola said.

According to Mills alumna Rachel Jensen ’13, one downside to cross-registration was the commute to UC Berkeley.

“The Mills shuttle didn’t run on schedule,” Jensen said via Facebook. “A parking permit [for UC Berkeley and/or city of Berkeley] would’ve been nice. Getting to class on time was tough, as well as avoiding parking tickets.” 

However, despite the challenges of cross-registration, many students said that cross-registration is an experience worth pursuing.

“It actually helps you become self-sufficient and self-reliant because you’re in so many different worlds,” DiPaola said about cross registering at ACT. 

Roth found that Mills has effectively prepared her for her course at UC Berkeley  .

“I go in there and I feel like the work I am doing is on par with what everyone else is doing,” Roth said. “It’s kind of nice to be stepping into a classroom and not feel like just because you’re coming from some place else that you’re not at a disadvantage.”

Jensen said that taking a mineralogy class at UC Berkeley allowed her to create her own major in geology, a major not available at Mills. 

“The class itself has proved very useful in my work now,” Jensen said. “It was a great compliment to my Mills education, especially being exposed to more in-depth research of topics not covered at Mills.” 

Students who are interested in cross-registration can receive more information from the M Center for Academic Records.