After an influx in student complaints last fall, the Office of the Registrar is rethinking the way the college handles online registration for classes.
Registrar Brian Scholten presented two potential models used by other colleges to the Student Government Association at its Feb. 23 meeting, where senators discussed the issue at length. Scholten said the office plans to use registration for summer and fall classes as a trial run for a new system.
At the meeting, Scholten said he hoped the new system will address complaints students have had about registering in the past, including the slow Internet connection on registration morning and the inability to access classes for which they are eligible.
One method to decrease traffic on registration morning that the office is considering would involve breaking down groups of students into smaller blocks by class and assigning them times to sign up.
“For example, current juniors who are rising seniors would register on Monday,” Scholten said. “The first group would register at 8:30 a.m., the second at 10:30 a.m., and so on, separated in two-hour intervals.”
To combat potential conflicts this might have with class times, Scholten said the start times for each group could be offset so as not to interfere with most classes. For example, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, classes usually start on the hour, at 8, 9 and 10 a.m. Scholten said under the new system, registration groups would start at 8:30 a.m. and continue to register throughout the day on the half hour.
Scholten said these changes are not definite, and the office is still tweaking the system and considering other options.
The office decided to make these changes after registration disruptions last semester.
“This past registration in November was probably the worse one for students I have seen since I’ve been here,” he said. “We decided to take action to make the system more effective and to avoid the numerous error messages the students were encountering.”
Scholten said the office has also considered implementing a system called “time ticketing.”
“It’s a function of HomerConnect where students will be assigned a date and time when they can access the system and register for classes,” he said.
Scholten said this system would allow students to log on to HomerConnect between April and the fall to add or drop classes, excluding scheduling during orientation. The only problem with this system is that students will not be able to change their prescheduled time even if it is during a class period, he said.
Senior Kevin Fish, SGA president, said he established a registration committee at the meeting to answer any questions students may have regarding changes to the system.
“The committee will actually just be investigating concerns from the student population because there were a lot of questions that were raised at the meeting regarding time constraints,” he said.
Junior Kirsten Bellisario said it was about time the administration made changes to the flawed system, but she said she wasn’t sure if she would be willing to miss a class in order to register.
“I think it’s great that it won’t take me twice as long as it should to register for classes, but I don’t think we should be forced to skip class — you miss a lot in one class,” she said.
Fred Wilcox, associate professor of writing, said he was annoyed that the new changes could mean students miss his classes on registration days.
“I don’t want students missing my classes to register,” he said. “What if we are doing something important that day? It does not seem like a logical system to me.”
Sophomore Alex Ancira said she had trouble figuring out the system and said the college should also work to provide more assistance to students when they encounter problems.
“I can never figure out what things exactly are on HomerConnect, and I find it really hard to navigate,” she said. “Robert Sullivan, associate professor and honors program director, said the whole system is like a balancing act, making it hard to cater to the diverse schedules of students.
“It puts constraints on the registrar because there is almost no time they can offer that won’t conflict with anyone’s schedule,” he said.
Sullivan said there’s just not enough time in the day to satisfy everyone’s agendas.
“Unless the registrar sets registration at 9 p.m., there’s no way to accommodate everyone’s schedules so everyone gets the classes they want,” he said. “It’s really just a game of musical chairs.”