New registration system is a step in the right direction

As anyone who consistently reads the Manitou Messenger from start to end will know, St. Olaf is implementing an entirely new registration system. It will be first come, first serve; seniors get access first, then juniors, then underclassmen. The Registrar’s Office promises an easier and more straightforward registration process, a claim that may or may not prove true in the long run.

“In a first come, first serve system, being early to the game is everything.”

The day spring registration opened this year, one of my friends and I skipped lunch, made Kraft mac n’ cheese in her microwave and signed up for classes within five minutes of registration opening. We knew the timing did not matter, but it made us feel a little more in control; with five majors and two concentrations planned between us, any amount of fantasized control over our class registration was calming.

As a first year, I heard plenty of advice and theories from peers and upperclassmen alike about how registration works. It felt to me like a convoluted, incomprehensible system: throw your classes into the void and hope it all works itself out. Cross your fingers and pray to the Registrar. Now, some of this panic is just my flair for the dramatic. But there is a general consensus among students that the old registration system is stressful and confusing.

So, will the new system be better? That remains to be seen. I can, however, offer some predictions. My class tested the registration system over the summer when we signed up for first year writing and religion classes. As a Great Conversation student, I did not have to go through the process, but most of the first years I know did. As a whole, they found the process pretty simple – with the caveat that they had no prior experience with which to compare it.

The first years’ approaches to registration varied. My circle of first years included both ends of the spectrum: some were like me, refreshing the page every few minutes until the program opened, while others forgot about it altogether until the very last day.

It is this difference in timing that worries me. In a first come, first serve system, being early to the game is everything; making mac n’ cheese and huddling with your laptop is necessary rather than slightly obsessive. For me, it raises a few potential problems. The most obvious is that this urge to be early will go overboard and that the already high-strung St. Olaf student body will just become more stressed – exactly the opposite of what the Registrar’s Office intended.

Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect registration system. It is a process that will cause stress and difficulty no matter how well designed it is. And as a whole, St. Olaf’s new system seems more straightforward and the first years generally had no complaints. Although I worry about the added anxiety the first come, first serve aspect will inevitably bring, I still think it is a better system.

Registration will never be a low-stress situation, but the new system is a nice attempt to make it less convoluted. If all else fails, register early, cross your fingers and eat some mac n’ cheese.

Grace Klinefelter ’23 is from Omaha, Neb. Her major is undecided.

Graphic: Anna Weimholt/Manitou Messenger

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