The Education and Curriculum Committee (ECC) expects changes to the course registration process within the next year. The committee intends to enact collapsed registration—in which each class year is assigned one registration time—and early morning registration times.
Changes to course registration result from Carleton’s transition away from the Hub. Beverly Nagel, Dean of the College, said that “faculty that are on the ECC began considering these issues and alternatives because Illusion—which is the company that provides our big software system that handles all sorts of things, from registration to student records that goes into the Hub––has let us know that after December of 2021, they’re no longer supporting the Hub.”
“We at this point don’t really know what that software solution is going to look like. We’re still researching different options and weighing pros and cons of different packages,” said Dev Gupta, Chair of Political Science and ECC faculty member.
“These are really complicated software systems and they have to do a lot of different complicated things to serve student needs, faculty needs, administrative and staff needs,” Gupta continued. “One of the things that we were finding is that a lot of the different software options that we’re weighing have preset options in terms of how registration works. What we have at Carleton is a really customized solution that has been built from the ground up. And so this was a part of a larger conversation. If we can’t rely on the software that we’ve had, we have to be prepared to adjust, to simplify, and to change.”
The changes to course registration were originally slated to roll out this month. However, the changes, and their specifics, are not yet finalized. “We’re still looking at different systems and figuring out what the timing and process for any implementation would be and how we’re going to replace this software that’s going away,” said Nagel. Concerning the original timeline for registration changes, Nagel said “I think we were wildly optimistic at that point. Obviously, it’s way too late for anything to happen this term.”
By the beginning of next term, the ECC intends to have a firm plan in place for software replacement and subsequent registration changes. As of now, Nagel said that “the committee has not yet determined exactly where we’re going with this bigger software system. We want to know a little bit more about that, so that whatever changes we might make will not require changing again a term or two later.”
As of now, the ECC intends to make two major changes to course registration once the larger software system has shifted. First, collapsing registration time by class year, rather than by priority time. “When we first went to the online registration system, the computer systems that we had at that point couldn’t handle everybody trying to register at once. So we still had to set some times, just to keep the computer system from failing.” Now, computer systems are so much more advanced that there is no longer a need for staggered priority times. “We could just have one registration time and open it up,” Nagel said.
When asked about the collapsed registration model, ECC Liaison Brittany Dominguez ’21 said “I am honestly not sure that it is the best model, but it is the one we are trying. If it does not work, then I believe the ECC will search for a better alternative.”
The ECC also intends to enact early morning registration, rather than evening and late night. According to Dominguez, “the registration times would be before the first class period,” likely opening around 7:00 or 7:30 AM. When asked, Nagel confirmed that there is some concern about students skipping class or losing sleep to register for courses. However, the ECC believes that morning registration will ultimately benefit students, as they will have access to immediate staff support.
“The biggest concern [that the ECC seeks to address with this change] are holds that students discover is on their registration for any number of reasons,” said Nagel. “If that happens late at night, we don’t have staff here. We don’t have staff in the business office who can look at the records and clarify and release the hold, whereas during the day we would. So that was one of the big advantages of starting things in the morning.”
The ECC is aware that these changes could impact course enrollment and offerings, especially for classes in high demand. Dominguez said that “Classes that are in high demand will probably experience the same high registration rates. Because this is the first time this type of registration will happen, I am not sure exactly what kinds of trends we will see, but as the ECC Liaison, I plan to inquire by sending out a survey to students to get their thoughts. This way I can get a better understanding of how to look at the registration system with a critical eye and make changes where they are needed.”
“Different departments are impacted differently by registration as well,” said Gupta. “Departments like computer science, where it’s a small faculty compared to the number of majors and the demand for the courses, they’re going to have a different experience when it comes to registration and how we handle that, versus a smaller department where there aren’t the same enrollment pressures.”
According to Nagel, “there have been suggestions over the years thinking about a sort of pre-registration system for certain classes or if there are things that are required for majors. Are there ways those could be built in to the registration system? All of that remains to be worked out.”
“I think the task of the ECC as a body is to try and figure this out,” said Gupta. “To try and hear from different constituencies on campus and to try and make a decision that sort of balances the needs of as many different groups as possible. Because the ECC has representatives from faculty, students and staff, it’s a particularly good place to try and get a mix of opinions around how this might be received.”
The Carletonian plans to follow up with the ECC next term, once software and registration changes have been finalized.
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