As each semester's end nears, most Mills students typically find themselves dizzied by the class registration frenzy of choosing their classes, scheduling appointments with their advisors, and staring at the backs of the throng of students ahead of them while waiting in those seemingly endless M Center lines. Not so this semester. According to M Center records as of April 17, 91 percent of Mills students have registered for their fall semester classes online, and most have done so hassle-free.
"It was really, really easy compared to the torture that they put us through," said freshwoman Daniella Pineda.
A small team of four Mills faculty members created the online registration system. Alice Knudsen, associate director of the M Center, along with Kristen Smith, assistant registrar, Mahmud Rahman of the Central Systems and Administrative Computing department and Tony Hail, Oracle programmer and analyst, began working on the system at the end of last summer. Working in phases, they created a pilot system and then tested it at the end of the fall 2005 semester using students that were studying away from Mills but that would be returning in the spring 2006 semester. Knudsen said that the pilot included about 160 students and it went very smoothly. "We used the pilot as a baseline," said Knudsen, "and then added features like the registration approval button for advisors and e-mails sent out to students that showed approval for them to register."
Knudsen said that there is more work to be done to the system. When registration began this spring semester, a new feature of the system, waitlisting, was piloted. Waitlists can be requested for any class by any professor, as long as they request to have them. The professors are in charge of managing their own waitlists. According to Knudsen, professors can easily invite students on their waitlists to enroll in their classes. Before online registration was implemented, students would not be added automatically to waitlists of full classes. They had to contact the professors of full classes and request to be put on their wait-lists.
With online registration, professors can now create waitlists by clicking a red button to invite students to enroll. Knudsen said that she imagines that the waitlisting options will expand as more professors take advantage of the feature. "It's good for optimal enrollment," she said.
Some students were pleased with the new process. "Registering online cut down that amount of time that I spent with my advisor by a lot," said freshwoman Emma Blaxster.
Junior Rebecca Riesenfeld transferred to Mills this spring semester from Laney College, where online registration has long been in use. She said that the Mills registration system was very efficient and that it went "more smoothly than Laney's system."
Under the old registration process, freshwomen and transfers had to select their courses in their first week at Mills and get all of the appropriate signatures on their registration forms. "That was so frustrating because we couldn't get many of the classes that we wanted," said Pineda. "When I talked to my friends at other campuses they had never heard of registering for classes in person."
According to Knudsen, new students will all register online in August. "They shouldn't ever put freshmen through that again, said Blaxte., "It was like 'turn in your stone tablet to the M Center'."
Sophomore Anya Muse said that registering online was very fast and easy. "The only thing I had a problem with was knowing that I was registered because there was no confirmation," she said.
Knudsen said that the students from the first pilot group gave the same feedback. "Clearly there needs to be some sort of confirmation," Knudsen said.
However, some students faced difficulty in registering for their classes online. "I had a hard time because I switched advisors and there was confusion about who would clear me," said sophomore Erin Lucas. "Having to rely so heavily on your advisor makes it difficult."
"I didn't get cleared in time so I had to go in [to the M Center] anyway, so the only benefit was no line," said senior Andrea Welles.
Knudsen said that the next phases of the online registration process will include responding to the feedback that they get. Knudsen welcomes all feedback. "We really want to know what your experience was like and anything annoying or counter-productive that you found on the site," she said.
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