Today we are giving you a peek behind closed doors to get the inside scoop on internal processes. Earlier in July, our incoming first year students self-registered for half of their fall class schedule. The second half of their schedule is selected for them using information our new students provided on their Course Preference Survey (which asks about potential majors, electives they might want to consider, preferences in subject areas, possible prerequisites needed for potential majors, and more).
You might wonder how all that gets accomplished, slotting in all the first years for classes. Well, it is a remarkably collaborative process. A small army of staff from the Office of Academic Advising, Registrar’s office, select faculty and academic department staff (maybe even more folks than that) come together in a collaborative fashion to read through the Course Preference Surveys and find the best fits for students.
I was part of the schedule-completion team a few years ago, and I can tell you that great care is taken to try and rightly place every student. Usually there was one staff member reading the Course Preference Survey and trying to suggest courses, and a second staff member would check online to see if the suggested course could fit into a student’s schedule without upending classes the student had selected for himself/herself. When the student’s first choice was not available, the ‘reader’ of the CPS would go down to the next possible option and the ‘checker of the system/registration specialist’ would look for the class and try to find sections that did not conflict, and so on.
This operation was not just a ‘plug people into any class at all and be done with it.’ It was much more purposeful and deliberate than that. If we saw a student who had accidentally requested two courses on the CPS that we knew were not wise to take in the same semester (such as the First Year Seminar and the Writing 111 class), we’d make sure to find a different elective so he or she would have a manageable load. In instances where a student’s expressed preferences were full, we tried to read through the CPS and think about what might be a ‘close second’ to what they had wanted.
The process was also very equitable. In the first pass, we’d give each student just one additional class, and then all the forms got shuffled and randomized so we could be fair about mixing up the order for the second class we’d add to their schedules. That way, no one was stuck with being ‘last to get classes’. Surely there have been even more enhancements to the process with each passing year.
Here’s a few shots of some of the staff working on registration this year.