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ISSUE 120 VOL 18 PUBLISHED 4/20/2007

Web registration debuts this month

By Miriam Samuelson
News Editor

Friday, April 20, 2007

This spring, for the first time in St. Olaf history, students will be registering for classes online. Registrar Mary Cisar calls this “a "process in transition,"” meaning that students will register for two of their classes using the Student Information System (SIS) online and will register for the rest of their classes using the old registration method in the Black and Gold Ballrooms. “"We want students to know that the system won’t be this convoluted and complicated forever,"” Cisar said. “"We hope that doing just two courses online this time will help us all get a hang of the system.”"

"The process of switching to an online system has taken a while," according to Cisar. "A few years ago, a committee surveyed students about web registration and their responses were overwhelmingly in favor of switching to an online system. “We looked into many systems,"” Cisar said. “"We looked at what has worked and what hasn'’t worked at other colleges.”"

Cisar said that this system seemed the most fair to faculty and students. “"We’'ve had many conversations about what ‘fair’ means,”" she said. "“We need to take into account the needs of academic departments and of students who need to complete their majors and graduate.”"

Many students have different opinions about what “fair” means in context of registration. "“I don’t like that our pre-registered classes will be our ‘first-choice’ slot online,”" Jeanne Foels '‘10 said. “"I’'m worried about getting into upper-level classes," Bryan Belcher ‘'10 said. “"The Internet can give you false hopes."

Anxiety seems to be a common sentiment, especially among rising seniors who must complete majors and fulfill requirements to graduate. “"This system is acceptable in the long run, but it puts [rising] seniors at a severe disadvantage,"” said Pete Williams ‘'08.

Micah Marty ‘'10 sympathizes. "It'’s unfair to upper-classmen,"” he said. "“Registration is just a hierarchy that we’re all passing through, and this transition doesn'’t offer everyone equality.”"

Ally Harris ‘'08 hopes that “the program is run so that the rising seniors are given the same advantages as in the past.”

Some members of the junior class, led by Andrew Foxwell ‘'08, have created a “Delta Task Force” to make the concerns of next year’'s seniors known.

Cisar assures students that the Registrar’s Office has put a lot of time and energy into doing just that. “"We’'ve been in contact with students on Senate about fairness to seniors and we really want students to know that we’re concerned about it,”" she said. “"I'’ve blocked off a whole week of my schedule to run the system many times and figure out the best way to do it.”"

Other students express apathy about the new system. “"I'’ve only experienced one year of the old system, so it doesn'’t really matter to me,”" Sam Brown ‘'10 said.

Stephen Anderson ‘'09 added that he has “"definitely been putting it off."”

Some students procrastinate completing their schedule because the new method seems daunting. “"It seems like too many steps to go through,”" said Erika Greiner ‘'09.

Although Becca Heistad ‘'09 has completed her registration, she said that "“it will probably be easier when it’s all online.”"

Some students feel that the new system is less personal. “"I understand that it cuts down on costs, but I'’ll miss the personal interaction,”" Lizzie Phillips ‘'09 said.

However, Cisar said that one of her biggest concerns is keeping registration personal. “We’'re trying it in the spring so that students can have their advisers on campus,” she said. “The rising first-year class will wait until they'’re on campus and use the old system this fall so that their advisers can work closely with them.”

Cisar remains optimistic about the system. "“It will give us much more information in a timely manner,”" she said. “"We can monitor patterns of registration and keep people better informed.”"

Many students express optimism as well. “"It'’s confusing, but I trust Mary Cisar," Maggie Matson '‘08 said.

Cisar, for her part, encourages students to keep asking questions about the new system. “"This registration is the most complex thing we’'ve done with the system so far, so I try to keep students abreast of changes and answer any concerns that they have,”" she said. “"We'’re putting a lot into making this work."”

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