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Column: Time To Ignite Class Registration

Heights Columnist

Published: Thursday, November 15, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

The middle of November is defined by change. Students throw away their Halloween costumes, tentatively start playing Christmas music, and make plans for Thanksgiving break. Hovering ominously over these cheerful holiday activities, though, is the specter of course registration.

I could easily write a multi-page paper exhaustively detailing flaws in the course selection process at BC. My first issue is the actual UIS web application. It will freeze or shut down without warning. It will erase all of your meticulously selected courses if you don’t manually type in Save frequently. Lastly, the UIS system is visually repulsive. The interface resembles a Cold War-era supercomputer, with its bland backgrounds, nauseating bright colors, and shocking lack of a backspace function. At the risk of sounding petty and pretentious, the aesthetic unpleasantness of UIS vaguely irritates me every time I pick courses. Seriously BC, you can’t divert a fraction of our exorbitant tuition fees toward improving the course selection application? I can only hope that the obsolete UIS system isn’t as “temporary” as the Mods.

Moving past my artistic quibbles, the actual course selection process is tragically flawed. Pick times are assigned completely arbitrarily. Everyone has that one annoying friend who always gets an early-morning pick time, or the poor soul who always gets a second-day afternoon one. Moreover, sophomores and especially freshmen can be completely doomed no matter how early their pick time. I remember drowsily logging onto Agora in my pajamas one freshman morning and discovering to my horror that my first, second, third, and even fourth choices in political science classes were already filled.

BC justifies its tuition protection racket by highlighting the exceptional academic program. This academic excellence is useless, however, if students spend multiple semesters grudgingly taking personally unappealing classes due to a poor pick time. BC course selection desperately needs reform.

Despite its many unforgivable flaws, BC course selection does have built-in safeguards. Some classes are restricted to one year of students, such as the Capstone program. Others are major- restricted, in order to protect students who depend on these courses to fulfill major requirements. There is, however, vast room for improvement. Georgetown, in addition to underachieving in basketball, snobbishly eschewing the Common App, and rejecting me four years ago, has devised an exemplary system. Students rank their course selections in order of preference. So if a senior picks on Monday and lists a course as his fifth choice, and a freshman picks on Friday and lists the same course as his first choice, the freshman gets the spot, despite his lowly pick time.

I have found that of my five selections, I covet one or two above the others due to an exemplary professor or fascinating course material. My other selections are haphazardly chosen at the last second, either to fulfill core requirements or place the last jigsaw piece into the intricate non-Friday, non-a.m. schedule. The Georgetown system would immensely benefit underclassmen who desperately desire the one or two courses that I chose half-heartedly. More importantly, it would eliminate the frustrating randomness of course selection and give students, rather than an algorithm, the power to select. As a senior thoroughly disillusioned with the course selection process, I humbly request that the BC higher powers consider their Jesuit brethren’s system. It’s difficult to set the world aflame when you don’t have the power to choose your own torch.

 

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