Quinnipiac Course Registration Piece
Quinnipiac University sophomore Joseph Pransky woke up one Tuesday in mid-October to his phone alarm blaring at 6:30 a.m. in his dorm room. He was up early in preparation for one of the most important times of the semester, course registration. Pransky had his schedule planned ahead of time around his on-campus job as he sat in front of his laptop and waited for 7 a.m. to strike. This is the moment when sophomores could hit the “Register Now” button, the registration tool Self-Service announced.
Pransky immediately clicked the button, and then saw the spinning wheel that said Loading. Most likely, the other 1,734 Quinnipiac sophomores are doing the same thing. This caused the website to stall and delay its processing. Pransky waited 10 minutes for the page to load before he could make any of his course selections.
Several of the available sections to Pransky’s planned courses have been filled. Pransky stet his forehead in frustration. “Now there’s barely any classes left that I need,” Pransky said. “I’m just so sick and tired of this happening every time I register for classes.”
Filled course sections, the inability to fulfill major/minor requirements and having to take unwanted classes are all issues that many students contend lie with a faulty registration system. As a result, some students’ jobs are compromised, commuter issues arise, study abroad students are affected and even students are compelled to change their major and/or minor. These major problems also come along with the frustration of Self-Service’s inefficiency on registration day.
Meanwhile, University Registrar Joshua Berry said undergraduates will be introduced to a new course registration feature starting in the 2018/2019 academic year.
“We are the first school in the country that will be implementing a product next year called the Civitas’ Schedule Planner,” Berry said.
In essence, this tool will allow students to prioritize their planned courses based on their various preferences, personal obligations and additional criteria. Berry mentioned exactly how this new schedule planner will benefit students beginning in the fall of 2018.
“This will allow endless options of schedules that work for any student,” Berry said. “It allows you to put in your personal schedule, professor preferences, academic requirements, time preferences and a whole lot more to give you the best possible schedule.”
Nevertheless, many students, such as freshman physical therapy major Haley Follansbee, fear this addition doesn’t address Self-Service’s technical problems.
“I really do like that they keep improving the overall system, but I think we need to focus on what matters most,” Follansbee said. “And that’s preventing the site from delaying during registration. I can’t speak for all students, but I’m sure they care more about that.”
Many students believe the order each class registers justifies Self-Service stalling during course registration day. Quinnipiac University runs a system where all students register in the order of completed credits, with the exclusion of classes they’re currently enrolled in. So, seniors register first since they have the most credits, and freshmen would register last.
Furthermore, the system’s key component is that the registration period opens at the same time in a class. In Pransky’s case, the time frame came after juniors and seniors, and at 7 a.m. on the same mid-October day for all 1,735 sophomores. The numerous students logged onto Self-Service simultaneously requires the system to operate at an excessive rate. In addition, the 1,963 freshmen, 1,626 juniors and 1,442 seniors also compete among each other at the same place, at the same time, for a similar goal.
Meanwhile, Quinnipiac originally adopted WebAdvisor, Self-Service’s predecessor, as the application for course registration. Berry, who’s been the university registrar for three years now, said that Quinnipiac changed its course registration system in the spring of 2017 for many valid reasons.
“Registration used to take 24-30 days, we and we wanted to drop those days dramatically,” Berry said. “And ever since we were able to decrease it to eight days, it has allowed a more equitable approach to all student types.”
Assistant journalism professor Molly Yannity believes Self-Service is better than its predecessor.
“WebAdvisor was very difficult for me to read because when I looked at it to see what students are taking and what they need to take, it was visually hard to figure out,” Yannity said. “Self-Service allows students to plan out their degree and take classes they’re interested in. That definitely wasn’t something WebAdvisor had.”
Yannity is also required to serve as an academic adviser for journalism students. She said the majority of her advisees’ complaints weren’t about Self-Service, but rather the course supply and demand.
“This issue doesn’t have anything to with Self-Service, but rather the priority system,” Yannity said.
Pransky also likes Self-Service, but sometimes gets frustrated about whether or not a class is truly full.
“I think it [Self-Service] could be clearer,” Pransky said. When it says a class is full, sometimes it’s really reserved. It’s hard to tell if there’s actually any open spots for some major classes.”
Reserved courses are ones the Registrar designates to certain students because of special circumstances, such as mental disabilities and priority reasons.
Sophomore journalism major Logan Reardon appreciates the course planning features on Self-Service.
“I like the calendar in front of us so we can see the classes we’re currently taking and what we have planned for next semester,” Reardon said.
His only problem with the course registration system is the slow operation of Self-Service.
“I think so many people logged on at the same time using the same Wi-Fi network is inefficient,” Reardon said. “Every time I’m online for registration, it’ll take about five to 20 minutes to refresh the page for updated information, and that’s really annoying.”
Follansbee successfully registered for courses during freshmen orientation; however, a different experience came for her next semester.
“There were no issues at orientation,” Follansbee said. “But this time, a lot of my required classes filled up immediately and the system stalled right away.”
Roughly 25 percent (2,570 out of 10,200) of the total student enrollment is declared under health sciences. This may have contributed to Follansbee’s experience with no available major courses.
Pransky has the same issue too, but he acknowledges that there’s not solution for that problem with the current system in place.
“You can’t really change the way all students rush in at the same time and register for classes,” Pransky said.
Some students want to add a GPA component to determine who registers first for a class.
Not only would completed credits be factored, but each student within each class would have their cumulative GPA serve as a tiebreaker. This is due to the strong likelihood that multiple students in a class have the same number of completed credits. In this case, the various student GPA values would create a concrete list of students who’ll receive priority for course registration. As a result, it would cause less students to be registering at one time. Therefore, Self-Service would likely be able to function efficiently and productively.
Berry is opposed to this proposal for multiple reasons, one of them being that several other students may deserve priority.
“There are many other groups that could rightfully claim the need for priority,” Berry said. “Athletes, residence hall directors, veterans, those belonging to student government, student groups, students with accommodations, 3 + 1 students, commuters, study abroad students, etc.”
Berry also said that implementing this proposal would defeat the purpose of class registration priority for those select categories of students.
“Placing hierarchy on those groups would create a system where ultimately no one would have a priority,” Berry said. “We’d be right back at having it open by class at a time when there are no classes or practices.”
Pransky agrees with Berry from the standpoint that the proposal would establish inequality among students.
“You can be a good student GPA wise, but not necessarily be more invested into your academics and vice versa,” Pransky said. “A number shouldn’t represent a student’s academic standing because one bad class or one bad semester can be unfairly judged.”
On the other side of the argument lies Reardon, along with many other students, who completely agrees with this proposal.
“I think this would give students both an incentive to do better in classes and better opportunities to register for courses with limited seats,” Reardon said.
Follansbee also likes the proposal because of the prize students would potentially strive for.
“I think that’s a good idea because if you work hard and get good grades, it’d be a nice reward to get to register early,” Follansbee said.
Even though the GPA proposal isn’t supported by the Registrar, Follansbee simply wants something to be done about Self-Service’s tendency to crash.
“I really think something just needs to be done,” Follansbee said. “Trying out different methods of doing this wouldn’t be harmful, but the method being used right now just doesn’t work.”
Yannity suggested that Quinnipiac’s information technology department and the Registrar should collaborate to fix the issue of Self-Service crashing. Thus, it wouldn’t be necessary to modify the course registration priority system.
“I think ‘IT’ should be able to handle having a few thousand students on Self-Service at the same time,” Yannity said. “To me, the heart of the issue is just fixing the technical stuff.”