Course registration: doom and gloom

Photo courtesy of Yesha Thakkar, Student Publications

I sit at the edge of my seat, tapping my fingers on my desk, waiting for the spinning rainbow circle of doom to lead me to Oscar’s home page. I absolutely need this class, I tell myself. I’ll have to work my entire schedule over if I don’t get a seat.

What feels like an eternity later, the gates of Oscar’s laggy portal open, and I furiously type in all my CRNs, only to find out that half the classes I need are gone. I didn’t plan for this in my backup schedule. What do I do now?
Near tears, I struggle to fill my schedule with 12 credits of classes I didn’t even consider taking just to be considered a full time student and join all my waitlists. The fate of my schedule now rests in the hands of other students, who may or may not choose to drop the class I want, or professors, who may choose to add more seats as more students join the waitlist.

Does that sound dramatic? Well, the pain of Phase I course registration is undoubtedly alien to few. The lucky handful will get all the classes they need, while the rest of us scramble for the remaining seats like vultures.
The point I’m making is simple: coupled with limited availability classes and unreliable registration systems, Phase I course registration causes unnecessary stress for students at Tech, as we juggle our already-chaotic lives and the fear of finals breathes down our backs.

It really isn’t anyone’s fault. Yes, there are more students who’d like to take a class than seats available, so stress is an inherent part of the course registration process. But there are a few strategies that both students and professors can employ to mitigate this stress.

Firstly, adding seats to a class incrementally would give students with later time tickets a fair opportunity to sign up for classes that they need. Instead of making all 300 seats available at once, adding 75 seats at a time would help students decide if they need the class at all instead of blindly signing up for it just because it’s available.

Secondly, lots of classes have prerequisites that fill up rather quickly, so it might be helpful to have alternatives for prerequisite classes that students can take in case their first choice doesn’t work out. This way, students don’t have to rethink their entire graduation plan when something inevitably goes wrong and they can’t take the prerequisite they planned for.

Phase II will come and most likely get you off a waitlist. Don’t panic. Take a deep breath. You may not end up getting the section you wanted, but you will end up taking all the classes you need at some point.

Consult your resources and work out alternatives.

Phase I is phenomenally stressful, but don’t fret — it will all be okay.