In California, the combination of budget cuts and high unemployment from the Great Recession has resulted in “overcrowded” conditions, with more students attempting to enroll in fewer available classes. State-level policy recommendations have focused on altering registration priorities to mitigate the impact of overcrowding, but it is unclear whether these changes will impact enrollment, as little is known about student behavior within these systems. Present-biased individuals who must engage in immediate efforts to obtain delayed rewards may procrastinate before beginning a task and vary in how intensely they engage in a task once they begin, and registration is found to be no exception. Varying levels of delay and intensity were found to be predictive of students’ course-taking patterns, even after controlling for a wide range of background characteristics, including previous registration delay and intensity. As a result, many courses that met graduation or transfer requirements had seat availability during the registration process and only closed near the beginning of the semester, which is in contrast to common narratives of overcrowding. Student registration is an understudied part of the college process, but suboptimal registration behaviors are shown to have significant consequences on the likelihood of college enrollment and retention.


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pp. 524-563
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