Amay Tewari, Senior Photographer

Yesterday, students across campus woke up at 8 a.m. to register for fall-term courses.

The new system, which requires students to register for courses a semester in advance, was implemented for the first time during the pandemic after years of planning, alongside the scrapping of the archaic Online Course Selection system in favor of a streamlined Yale Course Search website. But in the semesters since, students have been almost uniformly frustrated with the process. In an informal survey of 30 undergraduates on Wednesday afternoon, more than two-thirds reported being dissatisfied about the course registration process.

“My main issue with the course selection process is broadly that it forces students to make plans based on information they don’t have and without the time to fully consider options,” Tai Michaels ’23 wrote to the News.

The traditional shopping period, which allowed students to try out an unlimited number of courses during the first two weeks of each semester, was scrapped in spring 2021. Now, students register for courses in the middle of the previous semester. Certain courses, including creative writing workshops, language classes and certain upper-level seminars, have always required preregistration, but this now occurs the semester prior, in the days before early registration. 

Students’ qualms with the new system included the lack of posted syllabi for many courses, a lack of professor assignments for some courses, as well as missing course times for lectures or discussion sections. At least one course that was available for registration in the morning was subsequently announced as canceled. Others were dissatisfied that the number of courses that a student can request spots for is capped at 10, and the number of confirmed credits on one’s worksheet is capped at 5.5. 

“Honestly I’m just kind of disappointed,” Iris Tsouris ’25, who is a WKND staffer for the News, wrote. “There are classes that don’t have syllabi or meeting times listed on YCS that I would’ve applied for, had they not been lacking in this information. There was a course … that seemed very in line with my interests, but I felt compelled to drop it from my course list because it didn’t have meeting times.”

This past week, six Yale College Council senators called for changes to the course registration process in a public letter that was subsequently forwarded to Yale College administrators. The letter called for administrators to postpone the start of preregistration, improve the registration website, include students in the redesign process and standardize registration across academic programs and departments.

“We thought it opened up way too early, and the process was made worse by the fact that courses weren’t posted yet,” said Matthew Elmore Merritt ’24, one of the senators who signed the YCC’s letter. “Several of my professors have told me personally that they don’t have syllabi ready yet. It’s my understanding that the reason for pushing up the timeline was to make it easier for faculty to figure out how many students would register for their classes. But it seems this process just brings up new issues and doesn’t help either faculty or students.”

Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun responded to the YCC Senators, saying that he recognized the issues brought forth and was working to fix them. In an interview with the News, Chun said that his office would work with the registrar’s office to remind faculty about posting course information and syllabi earlier. But Chun stressed that syllabi are not required to be detailed at this point, but rather are meant to give students a basic understanding of the course. 

Chun also noted that the shift to the new system was originally prompted by faculty concerns about accommodating student interest and dealing with chaotic class size fluctuations during the old shopping period. 

“I have my ears close to the ground about feedback from both students and faculty, and I wish registration would have been smoother than it has been,” Chun said. “We’ll continue to remind faculty to post information, and remind faculty that we’re doing early registration for them, at their request. This is how most schools do it. So I know that it has to work better; it can work better.”

Faculty indeed have reported generally positive feedback, saying that the new system is an improvement from the old shopping period, though several noted that some streamlining is still needed. Given this is Chun’s final semester as dean of Yale College, how the system evolves from this point onward may rely heavily on the prerogative of Chun’s replacement, who is expected to be announced by the end of the semester.

Some students, including several upperclassmen, wished for a return to the old shopping period.

“[Early registration] remains the single most negative change to my Yale curriculum during my four years here,” Franklin Bertellotti ’22 wrote.

Having to register for courses in the spring, and then finalize schedules in the fall, Ben Cohen ’23 added, felt like doing twice the amount of work.

Other students, however, noted that the specific changes made to online infrastructure have been positive. Yale Course Search centralizes instructor permission processes and serves as a hub for course information and syllabi, once they are posted by faculty.

“It’s a lot better than it was [in fall 2020],” Noah Riley ’24. “Last year the system was outdated and almost impossible to work with. Yale Course Search is a lot better.”

Approximately 1,459 courses will be offered in the upcoming fall semester.

Lucy Hodgman contributed reporting.

Evan Gorelick covers Woodbridge Hall with a focus on the Yale Corporation, endowment, finances and development. He is a Production and Design Editor and previously covered faculty and academics at the News. Originally from Woodbridge, Connecticut, he is a sophomore in Timothy Dwight College double-majoring in English and economics.
Isaac Yu was the News' managing editor. He was formerly the faculty and academics reporter, laid out the Yale Daily News Magazine and the front page of the weekly print edition, and covered transportation and urban planning in New Haven. Isaac was also the News' inaugural Audience editor, overseeing the News' Twitter, Facebook, SEO and Instagram teams. He was also the leader of the News' Asian American and low-income affinity groups. Hailing from Garland, Texas, he is a Berkeley College junior majoring in American Studies.