Inventor of courseoff discusses website’s future

Photo by Caleb Phillips

Registration can be stressful enough, but just a few years ago, Tech students had an even harder time. Now, students across campus use courseoff, a website that helps students plan their schedules and share them with friends.

In 2005, Roman Shtylman created courseoff. Less than a decade later, the website is now used by thousands of students in over 20 schools nationwide.

“Above anything else, I wanted it to help students. I wanted them to enjoy using [courseoff] and draw some sort of benefit from that…Its important for me to make the experience for the students easy because I remember how much I hated the system and how much it hasn’t changed,” Shtylman said.

On a whim, Shtylman created courseoff in his Tech dorm room, hoping to make OSCAR registration easier for himself and his roommates. It started off as a much simpler Java application where users had to pull data from OSCAR themselves. Later, in Shtylman’s junior year, courseoff became a website, making it more accessible to students than ever before.

“It was my freshman year, somewhere through Fall semester and OSCAR released the Fall classes and that was it. I was just like ‘This is terrible!’  I’m a pure scientist so I decided to make something and I did,” Shtylman said.

This early version of courseoff might have been unrecognizable to current users.

“The original interface just graphically let me make a schedule together…it was very hands on on in the early stages and it was very ghetto. But it worked,” Shtylman said.

While courseoff has already grown considerably, Shtylman hopes to have it expand on two different fronts: its features and its user base.

Shtylman wants courseoff to become more like a comprehensive calendar for students to use. Students would then be able to block of events or activities, like sports practices, while they are creating their class schedule.

Shtylman also hopes to include courseoff in the actual registration process. According to him, there is no technological reason that he could not; rather, it was just a matter of talking to and working with the right people. Shtylman hopes to prove that courseoff can help simplify the entire registration process.

Shtylman is most excited about courseoff’s new social sharing features.

“I really like all of the social stuff I am doing. What I push really heavily is getting your friends involved in the process otherwise there is no easy way to share with your friends,” Shtylman said.

Social sharing has also led to Shtylman finding more and more schools to add to courseoff. Now Facebook friends and Twitter followers can see courseoff schedules and then request Shtylman to add their school to his system. A tool that was once entirely Tech centric has now grown to schools such as UGA, Clemson, Emory and Northeastern University.

courseoff also hopes to grow in the number of students and schools who use it. Currently, students whose schools don’t use courseoff can just go to the courseoff website and request Shtylman to create an interface for their school. According to Shtylman, this process is surprisingly easy because so many schools use similar registration processes. Because of courseoff’s growing size and user base, Shtylman has had much practice.

What began as “just a hobby” is now on the verge of becoming an actual company.

“When I made it at school and between now, I never considered it a company. I just made tool that solved my problem, “Shytlman said.

“People would always be like “this could be a thing” but now the timing has finally working out,” Shtylman said.

Despite Shtylman’s goal to make courseoff a sustainable company, he emphasizes that students will never be charged for using his tool.

“Students will never be charged for using courseoff, that’s fundamental…” Shtylman said.

No matter what the future brings for courseoff, Shtylman maintains that “helping students” is paramount to the website’s success.

“I was able to build something that helps,” Shtylman said.