Paperless system eases class registration, transcript orders

By 5 p.m. today, Yale juniors and seniors will hand in their course schedules — all at once.

While the frenzy of the last-minute rush in residential college deans’ offices may suggest otherwise, most Yalies have had a relatively easy shopping period because of online registration.

And now, they will have an easier time ordering transcripts through www.yaletranscript.com. All this, thanks to the Office of the Registrar.

“We’ve become more current,” Yale College Deputy Registrar Diane Rodrigues said. “Putting everything online is really just taking advantage of the latest technology to make everyone’s lives easier and faster.”

But to some, the technology has been perplexing and the course supplement — beloved by Yalies — is now in danger.

“I have no idea how we’re going to register,” Candice Carpenter ’06 said last week. “I don’t know if we have to use a card or do it online. I don’t know. I think they just said, ‘Go to this address and push these buttons and whatever.’”

“Everyone’s just been asking, ‘Do you know? Do you know?,’” Carpenter said.

Despite complaints of Internet traffic and user difficulty, the online registration system has been generally popular, garnering favorable reviews from both students and administrators.

“It’s been hugely successful,” Yale College Dean Richard Brodhead said. “Everybody’s interests are served when these things can be done more efficiently.”

Perfecting the system

On the eve of the first day of classes, many Yale students were frustrated by the high Internet traffic preventing them from logging on to the server. While the addition of two more servers and a link to a PDF file listing all classroom locations quickly remedied that problem, there are more improvements to be made, Rodrigues said.

“I think we’ve accomplished a great deal and we’re meeting the needs of the population,” Rodrigues said. “But there are probably things that could be improved.”

Despite the minor problems, Colleen Esposito, the senior administrative assistant in the Calhoun College dean’s office, said the new registration system has made her job easier.

“Overall, I think it’s great,” Esposito said. “I actually have students handing in course schedules early, which is amazing. I think [the online course registration system] is the way we have to go.”

While the new system has created a faster registration process with features like individualized exam schedules and search engines, some problems remain unsolved.

Political Science chairman Ian Shapiro said the new system still cannot solve his department’s most pressing problem — finalizing class lists.

“The biggest source of uncertainty is that students don’t turn in their schedules until five minutes before they have to turn them in, with good reason of course,” Shapiro said. “So we still have to rescramble [teaching assistants], assign new TAs, and unassign other TAs.”

For students, the online registration system has not actually expedited the process because many are required to gain permission to enrollment-limited classes before handing in their schedules.

But Rodrigues said these are the types of problems the registrar’s office cannot tackle unless there are structural changes in Yale College, something Rodrigues said she does not expect.

The death of the supplement?

In the same way that word processors replaced typewriters, the online registration system may soon render course supplements defunct. Although there are no such plans in the works, Rodrigues said she expects it to happen eventually.

Every day, Rodrigues said she makes 20 to 30 changes to class meeting times and locations. Even at the end of shopping period, Rodrigues is making changes — changes the supplement cannot keep up with.

“Course supplements are outdated by the time they go to press,” Rodrigues said. “It just adds another layer of confusion — the confusion of having too many different resources to go to for information.”

But while many changes are made on a daily basis, the course supplement is not completely useless because a majority of the supplement’s information remains useful, Esposito said.

Nick Bomba ’03 said he hopes the registrar’s office will continue to print supplements — supplements with classroom locations.

“There were times when I wasn’t able to get to the course listings and that was frustrating,” Bomba said. “I think they should continue to have a printed version, but stress that updates will be made.”

No more trekking for transcripts

In response to student requests over the past several years, the registrar’s office also launched www.yaletranscript.com so students can buy transcripts from their own desks rather than making the trek to 246 Church St.

“I think getting transcripts online is much better than having to wander all the way down to, where is it? Wall Street?” Derek Miller ’04 said.

Although the registrar’s office conceived the idea of having an online transcript service years ago, the office did not implement it because of concerns over the quality of Campus Direct, the firm that would be operating the service.

But the firm’s recent improvements in service and security convinced the registrar’s office this year to launch the feature, Rodrigues said.

Cassie Hsu ’04 said she is delighted with the new service because she is expecting to order a number of transcripts this year in her internship search.

“If you’re going through the whole internship application process, you’re always going to be busy,” Hsu said. “So [the transcript site] is nice because it’s just one less thing to deal with.”

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Courtesy YaleUniversity
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