Course selection on computer

by Maggie Fritz | 11/9/93 6:00am

Students won't have to leave their rooms to register for Winter term courses this year.

A new computerized course registration system over the Kiewit network lets students register for their courses from their dormitory rooms. The program was first tested on freshmen, who used it to register for this term's courses during Freshman Week.

"We knew if [the new program] went well we'd be under pressure to have everyone else use it," said Nancy Broadhead, an associate registrar.

Previously, students wrote their course selections on cards and brought the selection cards to the Registrar's office. There, workers processed the choices on special computer programs that prioritize which courses students are allowed to take.

The new system uses a program called DarTerminal. Users connect to a database called "elective" and enter their social security number. Freshmen must then enter a four-digit personal identification number, which upperclassmen do not have.

Then the computer asks for course numbers and compiles the schedule while the user is logged on. It refuses to enroll a student in a course if the time conflicts with another course or if the enrollment limit is exceeded.

Stanford University presently has a single program that compiles every student's course selections. Broadhead said Dartmouth hopes to eventually use the same sort of system.

But the Stanford system "took several years and a cast of thousands" to start up and maintain, she said.

The new system will not lighten the workload for the Registrar's office, Broadhead said.

"It may solve some problems," she said. "It will cut down on the number of notices that we have to send out telling students what they did wrong. With the new system the computer will tell students if they have signed up for conflicting courses."

Students who live on-campus were generally pleased with the computerized registration system. "Registering by computer is quick and easy," Nicole Alexander '95 said. "I don't have to worry about losing my card anymore."

Ross Nova '94 said the new system "took me by surprise. ... I just hope that it doesn't replace what they give you on paper. But it does get you thinking about it earlier."

Students who have off-terms prior to registration usually register the preceding term.

"We mailed out the elective circular and elective cards to students who were off campus this term," Broadhead said, "The students will be able to change their electives and alternates. For those in other countries for the term we sent the forms to their parents. We've received a lot of calls from parents."

There is no added incentive for students to register early because the system does not use a first-come, first-served criteria.

But Broadhead still said students should register well-ahead of the deadline in case there are computer problems.

The on-line system will accept course entries until 4 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 11.

The results of course applications will be available on the same on-line system around Nov. 18. Students who didn't get into courses will receive notices through the mail.