November 16, 2007

CoursEnroll System to Undergo Major Upgrade

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The word “CoursEnroll” brings a groan from most Cornell students, often coupled with unpleasant memories of waking up at 6 a.m. to sit bleary-eyed by their computers. For many, CoursEnroll means several minutes of waiting with crossed fingers to see if they get into classes and often trying to rearrange schedules on the spot.
To help and deal with some of the problems students have found with CoursEnroll, a new system will be implemented for the Fall 2008 pre-enrollment .
The system, PeopleSoft, will have features such as course specific wait lists and “swap,” which would allow a student to drop an old class and add a new one simultaneously.
David Yeh, vice president of student and academic services, said, “There are features we will add after we complete a stabilization period. Features like ‘wishlist,’ and being able to do ‘pre-search selections.’”
The administration hopes that the PeopleSoft based CoursEnroll will make pre-enrollment easier for students.
CoursEnroll, as students experience it today, was developed at Cornell more than 10 years ago. It was initially created to allow students to pre-enroll so that class sizes could be realistically planned. It did not always start at 6:30 a.m., however.
“In the beginning, CoursEnroll initially started at midnight. Student feedback said they preferred an earlier time in the day since classes, activities, etc. interfered with completing pre-enrollment,” said Yeh.
According to Yeh, the 6:30 a.m. starting time was also chosen in an effort to deal with the complaint that Just the Facts is too slow.
Shelley Honda ’11 said, “Pre-enroll took me an hour.”
At around 6:30 a.m., the University’s system is under the least stress from other applications, so the influx of students on Just the Facts does not make as much of an impact as it could.
Also, response time for Just the Facts typically only lags between 6:30 and 7 a.m., after which it is generally very high.
According to Yeh, it does not help if students log in before 6:30 and try to press send/return frequently; it actually might increase the likelihood that the person will not get in, but rather have to log in again.
Yeh also said that the myth that CoursEnroll works faster for different colleges is incorrect.
“Each class is assigned a certain time. We do not differentiate between the colleges, majors. We do not grant special access times for student-athletes. And, students [of campus] may log onto the on-line CoursEnroll … during the designated time periods,” Yeh said.
This sometimes poses problems when students do not get into classes that they need to take for their majors find. Then, students usually have to wait until the add/drop period or go to the department to see if there is a waitlist for that class.
Other schools’ systems are slightly different from CoursEnroll. The University of Pennsylvania uses a system called Penn Intouch.
According to Melody Chan, a freshman at Penn, there is a registration hold until students meet with their advisors.
Then, there is an advance registration period when students can request a certain number of classes afterafter which the system figures out schedules. Once the computer has produced a tentative schedule, students can add/drop classes.
The major difference between Penn’s system and CoursEnroll is that Penn students request multiple classes in the order that they want them, and then the system manages all of the classes and creates schedules for the students while trying to stick to their preferences.