Students flock to Yale Bluebook site

Yale Bluebook, a student-designed course selection tool, has attracted an increased number of students away from Yale’s Online Course Information system this shopping period.

Over 3,500 shoppers have logged into the site at least once since Jan. 2, a 40 percent increase over a comparable time period during the fall shopping period, said Jared Shenson ’12, who co-founded the site with Charlie Croom ’12. Croom and Shenson expressed optimism that Yale Bluebook would eventually be incorporated into Yale’s existing course selection system, but University Registar Gabriel Olszewski declined to elaborate on details of negotiations.

“We are hopeful that Bluebook will become the official Yale course shopping and registration system in the near future,” Shenson, a former Production and Design Editor for the News, said. Croom is a former Photography Editor for the News.

The class of 2015, for whom the Yale Bluebook website has always been an option, showed particular enthusiasm for the tool, with 85 percent of the class using the site at least once since Jan. 2, Shenson said.

In preparation for the spring semester, Croom and Shenson have included social media tools and provided additional information about each course on the website. They said they evaluated user feedback last semester to redesign and expand their website’s capabilities. They first rewrote the underlying code of the site, they said, making it easier to overlay features more quickly. New additions include lists of course materials and associated costs, as well as course enrollment statistics and a drop-down box featuring course evaluations.

The site’s founders also created features that allow shoppers to share their schedules with their friends. Each worksheet, which provides a schedule of selected courses, generates a link that students can send to others, and users can also compare classes with their Facebook friends.

“One of the first pieces of feedback we got when we first entered the YCC App Challenge was that Bluebook would be an incredible collaboration tool,” Shenson said. “We felt the same way and wanted to have a way for people to share their course schedule with parents, advisers, FroCos and friends.”

Seven of nine students interviewed said they prefer Yale Bluebook for its logical layout, aesthetic appeal and useful features, often saying they use the site until they are ready to create worksheets on the Online Course Selection system (OCS), in which are required to submit final course schedules.

“It was really frustrating my first semester of freshman year to try to navigate OCS,” Alisha Jarwala ’15 said. “Now that I use it to add classes only after I’ve done all the preliminary work on Yale Bluebook, it’s made shopping period a lot less stressful.”

Still, Olszewski said Yale Bluebook has not inhibited professors from gauging student interest via the ClassesV2 system since most students using Yale Bluebook seem to add courses to the OCS workshop as well.

According to the founders, students spend an average of 75 minutes on the site per visit.

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