Registrar releasing online wait list program

THE OPENING GRAPHIC TO WELCOME users to the Student information system where students can register for classes utilizing the wait list program.

Continuing an experiment from the last three semesters, the Office of the Registrar is moving forward to further test a fully automated wait list for a limited selection of courses for registration for the Spring 2015 semester. On the Student Information System, students can now add themselves to an online wait list for closed sections of a few test courses. When a spot becomes available, they will have 48 hours to register for the class before they lose their reserved seat and the next wait listed student is notified.

Previous to this new initiative, departments would keep their own physical paper wait list for popular courses and communicate with the assistant registrar to coordinate usage of the wait list. To appear on the wait list, students had to meet with the department administrator and request a wait list spot. Once a spot opened, the administrator would have to contact the student. This was a large hassle for students, causing few to make use of the old wait list system. This system also caused the administrators to take on unnecessary work. As a result, a staff member of the School of Engineering, who dealt with the most wait list requests, recommended that the Office of the Registrar develop an automated, online wait list system on SIS. The new system is being developed by Manager of Customer Service Michael Bayer, Business Support Analyst Michelle Henry, Assistant Registrar Michael Conroy, and Registrar Sharon Kunkel.

The system has been in development for three semesters. The first phase of implementation consisted of students registering on SIS to be on a waitlist for closed sections. However, the waitlist still had to be manually administered once a seat became available. As a result, it still wasn’t sustainable on a large scale. The results were promising, though, as more students made use of the transitional system than previously, and there was less paperwork for departments to deal with; both students and departments benefited. For this semester, the manual administration aspect has been eliminated; it’s a fully automated system. Students can now receive a wait list number by attempting to register for a closed course. Once a seat becomes available, an email is sent to the student with the lowest number on the list. Testing this semester is limited to 15 sections of mostly engineering courses, including ENGR 2050 Introduction to Engineering Design, plus ARTS 1200 Basic Drawing.

Thus far, the system has exceeded expectations. The biggest test will come when sophomore engineers begin registering for Introduction to Engineering Design, the bulk of the sections currently available in the new system. The main obstacle to the successful test of this implementation has been informing students of its existence. The system may be fine-tuned for next semester, possibly by reducing the 48-hour reservation period and offering a cross-section wait list. It is foreseen that another issue may be with students not checking emails, especially during break. Another issue is whether to retain the authorization form as well as the wait list system; some may view the combination as unfair. However, there has been no negative feedback yet on this subject.

There’s still some confusion for students dealing with the system, mostly related to unfamiliarity with the new system. Some students haven’t been sure if they’re on the wait list. Others have encountered issues in which they depend on becoming registered for the class from the wait list; the wait list isn’t a guarantee to become registered, and some don’t understand this. Otherwise, feedback has been very positive from faculty, staff, and students. The Office of the Registrar is extremely interested in feedback from student, staff, and faculty experiences with the system from this semester, as well as suggestions for improvement. Responses can be directed to Assistant Registrar Michael Conroy at conrom@rpi.edu.

If all goes well this round of registration, students can expect to see the final version of the new wait list system on SIS for Fall 2015 registration next semester for all courses. The Office of the Registrar also has another project under development: Proxy. Proxy will be a feature on SIS that will enable students to allow anyone (family, friends, etc.) access to a modified version of their SIS account. Students can determine which parts of SIS they wish each person to have access to (e.g. disallowing parents from viewing grades). This system would be similar to the current eBill system in that its purpose would be to allow parents access to relevant information, such as emergency contact information, laptop order form, viewing diploma holds, tax forms, parking permits, and financial aid information. This would allow students to better coordinate management of these items with their parents. This system is currently under development, with no release date yet determined.

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