Anchovies in the Petrolium Jelly - How did I get into this?
by Laurel and Guinevere
Ok, intro... Uh, I hate this part. Why do we always have to do this darn intro thing? Why can't we just jump right into it? What's the use of all this stuff before we get down to the business of writing this week's article? Hey, wait a minute... THIS is an intro. Oops. Didn't mean to do one of those.
Buuuut, what's done is done. First off, we received a neat response type thingy from Amy Plack to our article in last week's paper (actually, she mentioned it before the issue was published, but after we wrote it, so I guess that means we were kind of on the same wavelength with her - or she with us. Scary, isn't it?). Anyway, in her letter, she made a wicked profound observation: "I heard they are supposed to be making [Freeman Plaza] handicapped accessible... well, the way it is now, NO ONE can use it!" I think that pretty much says it all about WPI planning.
Well, now that everyone is pretty much settled in their classes and such, it is time to think back (waaay back to the start of A Term...oooh) to the time that you realized that you were actually going to be able to/forced to take your current classes. Got it? Good. In case you could not guess, our topic for this week is the Registrar's Office, and the joyous things that one can do in the way of registering.
Some time ago (D Term to be exact) we all got our class schedules and the option to make a few changes. Being as it was still in the middle of the term, it was difficult to know if you were going to be taking the next class in a series, much less be in the same major next year. Although it is very nice to get the option to change your classes (from what you did in REGI), everyone is soo busy with attempting to get through the end of the year, that no one has the time or brain power to deal with looking forward to the coming year, not to mention rainbow sheets, courses that meet every-other year, and the fact that your Underwater Basket Weaving section conflicts with Nuclear Physics.
Over the summer we all had plenty of time to sit down with the stacks of course descriptions and time tables to finally get a clue for the coming year. Isn't it a shame to spend that much time, only to wait for the rest of the summer for some chance to make use of it - because nothing comes to us from the Registrar. Not until A Term, anyway. What sense does this make? If we know any course changes that we intend to make, why can't we just send them in to the school over the summer, and save them all some work at the beginning of A Term? I cannot imagine the sheer amount of backlog that the Registrar must have to put up with at the start of the term, so why do they not give us the opportunity to alleviate some of it for them?
They have tried to make things a bit "simpler" with the addition of the REGI-24 pre-scheduling program (Freshmen, trust us, it sucks), but there are some major flaws in this here little gem. First of all, the "ease of use" factor makes it painfully slow, so the interface could be improved, but that's not the most important thing to change. The idea of REGI is that one can sign up for classes early, and save everyone a big headache with avoiding long lines at course change time. This is all well and good, and it has worked to this end, but it is far from perfect. I mean, it works, but the bureaucracy surrounding it would make the Federal Government think it was too complicated.
Say you want to preregister using REGI-24. Step 1. Check your snail mail. Find REGI-24 notice saying "go to advisor to get your super secret wicked special and wholly private code." Step 2. Try to find your advisor. (They always seem to know when this mailing goes out, and when you are going to be looking for them, and will purposefully be out of the country until further notice. They will (hopefully) leave these top secret cards with the secretary. Step 3. Figure out what classes you think you may have a slight interest in taking. Step 4. Tell REGI-24 about these classes. This should be done after (as well as before and with) a stiff drink, as REGI is basically stupid. NOTE: You will always wait until the last minute to do REGI, and end up waiting forever to use a terminal, unless you have a large friend who can physically remove your competition. Step 6. Wait and hope. Step 7. Get your class list, and be thoroughly amazed at how little resemblance there is between THIS class list and the one you thought you had typed in. Step 7.5. Wait for next year before you are allowed to do anything about what happened in Step 7.
So you get back to school, trying to figure out your game plan for course changes while sitting in the Harrington bleachers for an hour waiting to enroll. After you sign all of the enrollment forms and get the little sticker for your ID card, you're ready to make course changes.
A term changes. This is relatively easy. The most difficult part is trying to find a course change form. You should probably grab a few just in case you make a mistake, have to change a section after the one you wanted was filled by the person in line in front of you, or find it's a good way to meet people, as in "Excuse me, you seem to be looking for a course change form. Would you like to use one of mine?" Next step: get in line. Wait. Wait. Wait. [Editor's Note. There were sixteen pages of "waits" that had to be removed for space considerations.] Finally you get up to the front of the line, and if they don't have a freak power outage at this particular moment, you can go and get your course changed.
Maybe you've thought ahead and want to do B term now. Fill out one of the extra forms you picked up earlier (aren't you just too cool), walk up to the person working the B term terminal, and get out your pen again, because you have to fill out a DIFFERENT course change form... So much for planning ahead. Why can't they use the same form, people? They catch everyone on this thing. The paper they would save by simply using the correct information, albeit on the incorrect form, would be staggering (approximately 6.2533 metric tons of paper are wasted every year by Registrar's Offices around the country.) [Editor's Note (again). The previously stated numbers are known to be false, and were used only to make the point sound more impressive.]
Have you thought everything through early, and wanted to make your C and D term changes too? Too bad. The registrar doesn't work that far ahead this time. Neither can you. You'll have to wait until next term.
After all of this is done you're set. This assumes, of course, that the class you wanted was open. If you wait through this incredibly long line only to find that your class was just closed, you have to go back to the drawing board (not to mention the long line) again.
OR, your can get on a (drum roll please) WAIT LIST!
Wait Lists are probably the most annoying thing that have ever been invented. Oh, sure, they are very useful, so that you can actually get into the darn class, (read, if you are extremely lucky) but sometimes they just make you want to tear your hair out - or the Registrar's hair if such is your pleasure. First of all, you get a number. Everyone place your bets, please. If you are fortunate enough to have a number under 5, then you may have a slight chance of getting in, depending upon the class. In order to find out if you are actually taking the class you are on the wait list for, you have to go to Harrington sometime in the day (but not too late or you will lose you spot) on the first day of classes. If your current schedule has you occupied all morning, then you have to skip a class to see if you can get into another one. Pretty cool idea, huh?
Soooo, there you are, sitting in a class that you don't know if you'll be able to stay in for the rest of the term, or in a class that you are praying that you can get out of. Isn't suspense wonderful? In his early years, before he became famous, I bet Alfred Hitchcock worked for a Registrar... It could happen.
"What would you like us to do?" is probably what the Registrar will respond to these types of questions if asked (since we doubt that they read the paper). We're not going to talk to them, but we'll answer the question anyway. We want, or actually need, a super-duper, wicked decked-out on steroids, version of REGI-24. (S.D.W.D.O.O.S.R.E.G.I-24,000,000,000,000) (Hey, that sounds like a movie: REGI 24 Trillion... coming soon to a theatre near you...) In REGI-24T, we would be able to make changes at any time, up until the late fee time for that term. For example, after the first hour of some nasty EE course, you decide that you want to become a Civil. With REGI-24T, it would be as easy as walking across Institute Pond. (If you don't think that such a thing is easy, then you obviously have not been over there in a while.) Of course, the interface would be totally redesigned. Not that the darn thing is difficult to use, but the new version wouldn't be so user-belligerent.
REGI-24T would basically let all students register over the computer (hey, like some other not-quite-so-geeky schools already do! Wow...)
EMERGENCY WAIT LISTS! We want emergency wait lists, just in case you absolutely, positively, really, really, really have to be in that class. This option would be particularly beneficial for Seniors. As it is now, you have to get permission from the professor, who insists that it's the Registrar's responsibility, who subsequently insist it's the professor's responsibility, and the whole thing gets filled out in triplicate, and then put in the circular file, which leaves you graduating sometime in December.
That's it. That's all we want. Simple as that. Sooo, when do we get it? B Term anyone?
P.S. Be cool like Amy Plack and send us some neat things over e-mail, ok? Newspeak@wpi.wpi.edu with Philler as the subject.
Send your thoughts, observations, and questions to us at firstname.lastname@example.org...