Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 23:10
For spring registration, students will use a new course registration process that prioritizes based on matriculation year rather than number of credit hours, according to Dean of Undergraduates John Hutchinson.
Students will have 11 days, starting Nov. 1, to work with an online shopping cart on ESTHER, putting in or taking out first and second choice courses without any consequence, Hutchinson said. At 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 11, the cart will close and finalize. From then until 5 p.m. the next day, the system will sort students into courses with priority being given by matriculation year rather than total credit hour; those with the further matriculation year will have priority over those who more recently matriculated.
According to Hutchinson, the system will use a graduation year by adding four to regular students’ matriculation year. Transfer students will add three.
At 5 p.m. on Nov. 12, after the system finishes, students will be able to see their schedules. A day and a half later, at 7 a.m. on Nov. 14, the add-drop period will begin; each matriculation year, in order of priority, will have 10 minutes, followed by open add-drop where anyone can finalize their schedule. After that, it is the same system of special registrations and waitlists.
Hutchinson said the 11-day period allows students to get any advising they need and that last-minute advising will be possible in the day and a half between the schedules coming out and the beginning of the add-drop period.
“When students add a course to their shopping cart, they’ll be able to see how many others, by year, currently have the same course in their carts,” Hutchinson said. “That way, if you know you won’t have a chance at getting a spot, you won’t waste one of your choices on it.”
The new system, developed by Technical Manager for Administrative Systems Bob Truscott, changes the algorithm for course assignment, Hutchinson said.
“There are two goals with the change,” Hutchinson said. “One is to make the process less stressful and less frantic, with no more rushing to get course numbers into the system. The new system is user-friendly and gives time for proper advising. The second goal is to make the entire course registration process more equitable.”
According to Registrar David Tenney, the new system will remove the advantage for students coming in with a lot of credit hours.
“One specific request [from students] we’re trying to accommodate is eliminating the Advanced Placement disparity during the priority registration that starts registration week,” Tenney said.
Hutchinson said the previous system did not make sense.
“The system took flexibility away from those with the longest road ahead of them,” he said.
Student concerns and complaints from previous years drove the change, according to Hutchinson.
Many thought it was difficult to get the courses they needed because of the unfair advantage for their peers coming from high schools that offered AP programs, Hutchinson said.
Even students from the International Baccalaureate programs were concerned since the AP program offers much more credit, Hutchison said.
The system was given a trial run during Orientation Week, when freshmen used it to register for the classes they are taking now, according to Associate Dean and Director of Academic Advising Brian Gibson.
“We had 70 percent of freshmen get everything they wanted,” Hutchinson said.
Duncan College freshman Xilin Liu said competition would still be stiff for small classes.
“I know for ENGI 120, many students wanted to get in but didn’t,” Liu said. “As for the new system, I had 63 AP credits, and now they’re worthless, but I agree the new system is fairer for all.”
Tenney said the system will go through all the course numbers in random order, and for each course number, will find everyone who requested it as a first choice and sort them by graduation year. Going from soonest to latest in terms of graduation year, the system will randomly assign the course to as many as possible. Within a graduation year, who gets the course first is entirely random. After all the first-choice requests have been evaluated, the system will do it all again with second-choice requests, filling up classes that still have space. “For every single course, the system will randomly select students; no one is given first preference each time within a graduation year,” Tenney said.
Further changes were made based on the results of the system’s first run during O-Week, according to Hutchinson.
“For courses requiring special permission, or where a student might have unmet prerequisites, students can hand in a form beforehand to let the system know to let them in,” Hutchinson said. “I know there are concerns about co-requirements, like a course and its corresponding lab, but based on O-Week, we have the space to accommodate everyone. Some students might need to use special registration and waitlists, however. That’s easier, too, though, because now you can waitlist for a different section of a course you’re already in.”