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The Scarlet & Black

Course registration to switch online


Grinnellians will be able to register for next fall’s classes online during the upcoming preregistration period from Monday, April 14 through Thursday, April 24, thanks to a switchover implemented by Information Technology Services (ITS) and the Registrar’s office. This is the first semester online registration has been available at Grinnell.

Registrar Cheryl Chase, Assistant Registrar Vicki Rutherford, Senior Business Process Analyst Phil Bartachek and ITS Project Manager Brent Jaeger have worked together to ensure that student academic planning and online registration will be ready for use for students to preregister for next fall. They are confident that the new system will allow students to make better, more informed class selections and simplify the preregistration process.

The program is an online interface that students will access with their network ID and password through a link in PioneerWeb. Inside the program they will be able to look at class listings and sections to plan a schedule, as well as search for courses, make four-year plans and check major requirements.

Online registration will allow students to access more information about the classes for which they are registering and the likelihood that they will actually be enrolled in their preferred courses. Certain courses will be listed as “likely to fill,” and they will clearly explain how the professors will prioritize their waitlist should the class over-enroll. Easier access to this information is one of the primary reasons that the Registrar’s office is making the move.

“It’s to help students understand priorities for a course—so it’s more transparent than it is right now … and you’re not panicking on the day we do cut and close,” Chase said.

With the new program, students will be able to select secondary courses for when they are waitlisted or cut after preregistration is over, something they were not previously able to do. The Office of the Registrar hopes that this will lessen the number of students forced to find classes during the Add/Drop period.

“I think it gives students less of a stress factor—that’s one of my personal motivations. So you have a choice, you have a backup. So you’re not waiting until the last minute,” Chase said.

Many of the things that make Grinnell’s registration unique will not change with this new system. Students will still need to meet with their advisors, have their courses approved and classes will still be subject to “cuts, balances and closures.” The ability to maintain the personal nature of the registration process is part of what has delayed the arrival of online registration.

“All of our peer group schools definitely have online reg and have had it for a long time,” Chase said. “And some of what’s been our problem is the ‘cut and close’ process and how different it is. And not destroying that hands-on by the faculty.”

After meeting with their advisor, students will then send their schedule to their advisor for approval and register for the classes with the click of a button.

The Registrar’s office also hopes that students will now sign up for classes earlier in the preregistration period. Typically, nearly 400 students wait for the last day to turn their pre-registration forms in to the Registrar. If more students select their classes before the last minute, the office will be able to make more decisions about administrative issues earlier.

Chase explained that the new process will allow the Registrar to monitor registration levels and make adjustments more easily before the end of the period.

“It’ll be more monitoring what’s happening than being immersed in nine days of typing in people’s names and what they’re taking, and instead looking at what’s filling and what we might need to add a section for ahead of time,” Chase said, “We could know on day four with this system, that [certain courses] are filling at an incredible rate and we may need to add another section.”

The Office of the Registrar held information sessions about the new software this week, and will be holding more information sessions to give students hands-on experience with the program before preregistration starts. The info sessions will take place in ARH 124 on Tuesday, April 1 from 7 to 9 p.m. and Wednesday, April 2 from 4:15 to 6:15 p.m.

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