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Computer Science department implements new registration system

On Monday, February 3, all students enrolled in Computer Science (CS) classes, as well as students on the department interest list, received an email detailing a new registration system. Titled “The Match,” the system pairs students with CS classes using algorithms similar to those that match medical students to residencies.

Students were asked to fill out a form ranking Computer Science classes numbered above 201, indicating which class they prefer to take next term. For this pilot term, most, but not all of the seats in these classes will be filled with the Match. The rest of the seats will be filled during regular registration, according to the email.

The Match will not be used for the first two classes in the CS sequence, CS 111: Introduction to Computer Science and CS 201: Data Structures. Students will enroll in these classes during regular registration as usual, the email stated.

This new system comes as no surprise to students. The Computer Science department has struggled with long waitlists for some time. “They offered Artificial Intelligence again and all the slots were filled by the time the seniors had registered. A bunch of the juniors and CS majors couldn’t get in at all,” said Jessie Bauskaf ’20, Student Departmental Adviser for CS.

Department Chair David Liben-Nowell and Professor Anna Rafferty spearheaded the efforts within the CS department to revamp registration. They presented the Match proposal to the Education and Curriculum Committee (ECC) on January 22, following a November 2019 ECC meeting where CS registration challenges were discussed at length, according to meeting minutes.

The implementation of the Match has come with its share of challenges. At the Registrar’s Office, the additional work outside of usual registration times proved to be an issue. “My concerns boil down to having an abbreviated timeframe to work out the details of the system, and I was considering what my office’s workload and deadlines looked like over the second half of the term,” said Registrar Emy Farley.

On Friday, February 14, Match notifications were sent out. All participating first-year and sophomore students received the same email, which stated that none of them had matched to a class. The email reminded students that some seats will still be available during regular registration. “We strongly encourage you to register for a CS course you’re interested in if it has seats available, or to waitlist a CS course if there is not a course with seats available that you would like to take,” the email read.

While these open seats may allow first and second-year students to register for a class, it also means junior and senior students may register for a second and third course, taking advantage of their seniority. “This problem is going to be worse in this term,” said Prof. Anna Rafferty addressing this issue. “Pulling all of the Class of 2020’s seniority—that doesn’t seem fair to them.”

Meanwhile, students can still register for CS 111 and CS 201 during regular registration, although some underclassmen may still be shut out if these courses fill up with older students.

Regardless of underclassmen’s results, the new system could still mean a decrease in waitlists compared to past terms. This information will become available when regular registration is complete. The Computer Science Department remains optimistic that The Match will only become better next Fall, when more seats are assigned through it.

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