New software, simple registration

MEGAN RAPOSA

mlraposa11@ole.augie.edu

ALAN THOMPSON

acthompson09@ole.augie.edu

A new program changing the way in which students register for classes is being tested by the registrar’s office.

Currently, Augustana is one of four colleges working with Academic Planner software, a program that was developed by Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, Mich. The registrar’s office hopes to implement the program for fall registration this spring.

Academic Planner allows students to map out a four-year plan of which classes they want to take. In the program, students select a major to see its requirements. Then they can drag the courses they want into a four-year calendar. They will be able to see which classes are scheduled for each semester and the sequence in which they will be offered.

Academic Planner will also make registration easier for wait-listed students.

“If you’re on a waitlist, you have to register for something else. You have to pick a swap course,” registrar Joni Krueger said of the new program.

Under the current registration system, when students register for a class that is already full, they are put on a waitlist. If a wait-listed class reopens, Krueger emails the wait-listed students to ask if they are still interested in taking the class.

“Students have a tendency to pick classes [and] change their mind,” she said.

This semester, a test group of 10 students and five advisers used Academic Planner to register for the 2013 spring semester. Sophomore Hannah Redder, one of the 10, says the program’s value lies in its straightforwardness.

“The new program is simpler,” Redder said. “You have everything in front of you, which eliminates the need to have all sorts of papers and highlighters spread out around you while you figure out your classes.”

Redder, a transfer student, experienced a bit of difficulty with the new technology but said it would ultimately benefit students.

“You couldn’t see at what times a class was being taught, or by which professor,” Redder said, who wanted to make sure her classes didn’t conflict with her work schedule.

“It took me 30 seconds to actually register for classes,” Redder said. “ I feel like this could definitely take the stress out of registering.”

Assistant professor of journalism Jeffrey Miller, one of the five advisers selected for the test group, agrees with the benefits of Academic Planner.

“I think in the long run it will be better, but [in the] short run, it’s teaching an old dog new tricks.”

One long-term benefit of Academic Planner is the ability for students to indicate ahead of time which classes they’d like to take each semester. This allows the academic departments to see in advance the demand for classes and take those numbers into account when scheduling.

“We have to figure out which classes are going to be offered over the next five years,” Krueger said. “We need a five-year plan from the departments.”

Students would also need a four-year plan. When students lay out a four-year plan, departments can see which classes are being offered too often and which classes are not being offered enough based on the projected number of students registered.

Miller recognizes that for students who do not have a four-year plan, the new software could be overwhelming.

“If I were a student, I would not like it because I’m too much ‘fly by the seat of my pants,’” he said. “Having tried it now, I think honestly that the benefits, or at least the potential benefits, outweigh the current perceived costs.”