NEWS

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February 21, 2012

Faster course registration catches some off guard

For students already mixed up in the spring quarter course listings, the choice between the prose of Fernando Pessoa, the history of Byzantium, and the language of pornography can be agonizing.

However, a new online preregistration tool that launched yesterday morning promises to make at least the process go a bit more smoothly.

The new Web site, classes.uchicago.edu, consolidates previously disparate parts of the registration system into one online location. Users will be able to search for classes across disciplines, check course evaluations, and compare time schedules all on one site. It also affords greater flexibility to students in adding and dropping sections.

Lynn Barnett, Interim Director of the Web Services group within IT Services, wrote in an e-mail that the impetus for the new preregistration tool originated in 2008, with then-University Registrar Gabriel Olszewksi.

“[Olszewksi felt that] it was an inconvenience that students needed to have four separate sites open to get all of the information they needed for registration: time schedules, course catalog, evaluations, and finally the registration site.”

A random selection of undergraduate students took part in two pilots for the site, during the add/drop periods before autumn quarter of 2011 and winter quarter of 2012. The program was adjusted each time in response to student feedback.

The site launched for the entire student body at 9 a.m. Monday.

Still, there are some who feel that the site was not adequately publicized—and so were less prepared than they’d liked to have been when it went live.

Undergraduate students were notified of the change last Thursday, but in the days leading up to the site’s launch, administrators and advisers seemed unsure of the way in which the Web site worked or even that it existed.

According to Barnett, IT Services was asked to give a demonstration of the new program yesterday, after the Web site had already gone live. Advisers, therefore, had no prior knowledge of the way that system functioned.

One adviser who was contacted Sunday night said that the new site “was mentioned in last week’s staff meeting but we did not get to ‘see it’ until today, when a representative from the registrar’s office came to our 1 p.m. staff meeting and gave a presentation.”

The system is still undergoing changes. “We are not finished rolling out features,” Barnett said. “Once the eCatalog project nears completion, we will be working with Student Systems to integrate course descriptions directly into the new registration site.”

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