A few weeks ago I wrote this post about my system for registering for class.
The system: Express interest early. Get on the wait list before registration. After getting shut out of a class (by online registration software, and by the prof.) I just keep going to class. And eventually, professors say yes. Every time.
The good part: Students who are genuinely interested in classes get into them. Your fate isn't decided by a race to enter numbers online.
The bad part: I got cocky. I hated waking up early and fighting against shitty software. So I stopped even trying to register for classes. I'd just email profs, get on wait lists, express interest, and I wouldn't take no for an answer.
I haven't shared any of my posts on Facebook, so I didn't think it would get around too much at Middlebury. It did. A few profs petitioned that other professors were passing it around via email and talking about it in the hallways. My sister said that several of her professors mentioned it.
I imagined them saying great things:
"Good for him - Awesome that students are finally taking their fate into their own hands."
"I wish more students cared enough about their class choices to do that."
Today I spoke with one of my favorite profs - and I heard that that's not exactly how it went. Several department heads shared the article with friends and entire departments. And the message was more like this:
"Be careful of this guy. He'll try to weasel his way into your class."
The professor then suggested that rather than put fourth my strategy around the flawed system, I put fourth constructive feedback. Touché. Here are my thoughts:
- Why is the registration at 7am - everyone is groggy and grumpy. This is the easiest thing to change. Make it 9pm.
- Why must we race? We should enter the classes we want (in order of preference), over a 24 hour period. Then the servers won't get blasted at the same time and crash. This is beyond frustrating.
- Then, at the end of the 24 hour period, an algorithm should sort people into classes. This is the contentious part:
- It seems clear though that the algorithm should take into account first, second, third chocie, etc.
- It seems clear that the algorithm should take into account weather a student needs the class for her major.
- Then, registration should open like normal - Students should have the ability to change, and add classes to fill slots that they didn't get.
- Oh, and professors should encourage students to plan ahead and heckle them. Who do you think is going to be more passionate and engaging in class -
- a student who signed up on the day of registration because a class fit with his schedule? Or because they got lucky and clicked "submit" first?
- Or a student who planned 4 weeks ahead, who emailed and called? A student who went to office hours and begged to join the class?
The current system is flawed. Don't hate the player, chage the game.