Registration, transcripts reconsidered

Bluebook-screenshot-2
Photo by Daniel Sisgoreo.

Yalies may soon see drastic changes to the way they register for classes and read their grades.

Yale College Dean Mary Miller said she hopes to add additional information to undergraduates’ academic records, such as extracurricular activities or median course grades. Miller also said a redesign of the Online Course Information and Selection websites could be in the works. Though she said all plans are contingent upon the hiring of a new University Registrar, a University administrator has previously said that Yale could make an offer to a candidate for the position by the end of April.

“I hope we can make the entire academic record more interactive,” Miller said. “There are grades on your transcript, but what else would one want to encompass in an academic record?”

Miller added that any serious discussions concerning changes to students’ transcripts or to the OCI and OCS systems would have to wait until a new registrar is hired. Associate Vice President for Student Financial and Administrative Services Ernst Huff told the News April 5 that Yale could hire a new registrar by the end of the month. Interim Registrar Eileen Quinn has served in the post since former University Registrar Jill Carlton retired last January.

Miller said she wanted to consider the practices in place at other universities before altering the content of Yale transcripts.

Robert Fitzgerald, the Brown University registrar, said his office does not keep track of students’ extracurricular involvement, except for student-athletes in the National Collegiate Athletic Association, or NCAA. He added that Brown transcripts do not list median grades for each course alongside students’ actual grades.

Though Miller said she does not know what information may appear on academic records — or what level of detail administrators would include — eight students interviewed said that including extracurricular involvement on an academic transcript is unnecessary or could negatively impact student life. All but two thought the addition of median grades would be a positive change.

“It just seems like such a return to the high school mentality,” Gabriela Reed ’14 said of the inclusion of extracurricular information in academic records.

Indeed, Mary Shi ’14 said she felt students might be inclined to participate in activities they did not truly care for, adding that she felt extracurricular involvement is better suited to a resume.

Maria Correa ’13, a biology major, said she thinks students’ levels of involvement in extracurricular activities vary widely, which she said would make it difficult to determine when to include a particular activity in a student’s transcript.

But the students looked favorably upon the possibility of including median grades in transcripts.

Correa said she thought inclusion of median grades would allow students’ achievements to be contextualized. She said in particular that it would be obvious from a transcript when a student had taken a “gut” class, because the class’ median grade would be unusually high.

All eight students were supportive of a redesign of Yale’s course information databases, though half said they have grown accustomed to the system currently in place.

Two groups of students have already created new versions of OCI and OCS systems for the Yale College Council’s App Challenge. Contestants competed to create computer software to improve student life and encourage innovation, according to the YCC’s website. While both of the groups who designed new OCI and OCS sites lost the competition, the contestants said they will continue working on their applications and leave them open to students online.

Jared Shenson ’12, who created a redesigned version of the OCI system at www.yalebluebook.com with Charlie Croom ’12, said he and his partner think Yale’s existing course selection software is in desperate need of renovation.

“As Yale students, we’ve been using OCI and OCS for as long as we’ve been here,” Shenson said. “For me, that’s three years, and I’ve just never been able to do shopping period the way I’ve wanted to.”

(Shenson is a former Production & Design editor for the News, and Croom is a former Photography editor.)

Shenson and Croom said their website allows users to export schedule worksheets to Google Calendar or to iCal. The program can also suggest courses for students based on classes they have already selected.

They added that they are planning to bring their application to the attention of the Registrar’s Office for possible incorporation into OCI and OCS. Shenson and Croom said they have not yet decided if they would charge Yale should the University choose to adopt their program.

Bluebooker, created by Stephen Hall ’14, Jan Kolmas ’14 and Geoffrey Litt ’14, is not designed to replace OCI or OCS. Rather, Litt said, the program “expands on” the information already available through OCI and OCS and helps students design their course schedules over four years at Yale based on their chosen major.

“This app would improve incoming freshmen’s course selection and help them take better advantage of what’s available to them at Yale,” he said. “Choosing relevant classes is important to making the most of your time here.”

Litt added that his app — which is available at www.bluebooker.net — would save time for students, who he said do not often make long-term plans for their time at Yale.

Roammeo, a smartphone application and website that provides a listing of activities happening on Yale’s campus, won the App Challenge and a $1,000 prize from YCC.

Yale College transcripts are available for $7 from the Registrar’s Office. Additional transcript orders entered at the same time and for the same address cost $3 each.

David Burt contributed reporting.

Comments

  • anon82

    I think its a terrible idea to put median grades and extracurricular activities on a transcript. It seems like it would increase competition among students, discouraging collaboration, and encourage people to participate in often silly clubs just to lengthen their transcript. Pre-med and pre-law students probably would love this, though.

  • Jaymin

    That bluebook website is AWESOME! The administration would be foolish to not incorporate the interface.

  • soph_13

    adding extracurricular activities would just increase overall competition and encourage people to join clubs they don’t really care for. There is a place for all this information and that is on your resume, not your transcript. Also adding median grades wouldn’t change that much – employers and admission committees are already well aware of differences in difficulty between various majors.

  • ashe12

    @soph_13

    In my experience, employers are only somewhat aware of the differences in difficulty between various majors. They probably (hopefully?) know that the hard sciences are more difficult than humanities, for example, but when it comes to something like political science vs economics, even though the former is generally considered to be easier by the student body, many employers only see the number next to “cumulative GPA.” But I do agree with the rest of your points.