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ISSUE 121 VOL 10 PUBLISHED 12/7/2007

Registrar analyzes system

By Lauren Melcher
Staff Writer


Friday, December 7, 2007

The Registrar's office posted Phase II registration results Friday -- and students learned exactly how different the new online system is from the traditional in-person process of years past. Although the Registrar's office introduced online registration procedures last spring, this latest round of class selections was the first to be completed almost entirely online. Students chose classes in two phases through the Student Information System, but still had to make drop/add changes in person.

With the new system came many changes to the way courses are scheduled and filled. Mary Cisar, registrar and assistant vice-president for academic affairs, said that her office was able to accommodate students by adding classes in some departments, including a level III biology seminar and another section of Statistics 110.

"We made these changes based on the information from the new system, particularly the ideal schedules, but also the information from students' alternate submissions," Cisar said. "We were also able to respond to a situation in one department that was the result of there not being enough places in courses for all the senior majors," she explained.

Another significant change was the abolition of Registrar-maintained wait lists for closed courses. While wait lists used to be handled through the official registration computer system, they will now be kept by individual departments. According to Cisar, the official wait-lists were often outdated because students chose alternate courses and because various departments had different ways of dealing with wait lists.

"We felt this time that it was better to have students work directly with faculty to get their names on wait lists," Cisar explained.

Overall, Cisar was pleased with the results of the new online system. Although the entire registration process spanned more time than ballroom registration, she said that students were more prepared and accepting of alternate choices. "The new system is very transparent: students can see what the maximums are, they can see what the day limits are, they can see how many students of which class are registered and all their choices are saved and able to be analyzed," Cisar said. In comparison, the ballroom system gave students less information, because they couldn't see class limits for courses or be alerted of missing pre-requisites before planning their schedules.

Under the new system, almost 90 percent of seniors were registered for their first course in Phase II (third course overall), with 80% of all class years receiving their first choice for that same third course. After Phase II, 360 students were registered at part-time status (2.5 credits or fewer) and 2,432 were registered as full-time students.

As always, there were some students who did not receive full schedules in either Phase I or II, or both, including many juniors and seniors with carefully-planned graduation requirements to fill.

Anna Sperling '08 did not get any of her major requirements filled during either phase one or phase two - instead, only her electives were filled, while a first-year got into the 300-level seminar that she needs to graduate. "I am annoyed with this system as it does not provide priority for seniors, and if you pre-register for two classes, you automatically don't get to register for classes until the second phase of registration, when many of the classes you want as a senior or junior are already filled," she said.

Cisar said that the program is not yet perfect, and she spent many days running tests of the registration program to find an ideal formula for when to run various classes through the system. "I am also trying to figure out how to separate the submission of ideal schedules from the rest of the process," she said, "because with a bit more time with the ideal schedules, we could do a better job of assessing the fit between classes and student demand."

"This fit is never perfect, because departments need to offer a full range of their courses, but as we did this time, we can sometimes make adjustments," she explained. Registration for interim and second semester courses is now complete, and drop/add procedures are posted on the Registrar's website.





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