My Class Registration System - Part 2

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.