This week marked the first time the entire student body used Polaris, the new online course registration website, rather than course cards. First years used Polaris for course selection this fall.
Registrar Jan Brackett evaluated Polaris’ success from two angles: what the results were for students signing up for classes and what feedback she received from the faculty and advisors.
“I compared how many people were in four classes after round one versus how many people were in four classes after the top of the card was processed last spring,” when registration was still done on paper, Brackett said. By this metric, all four grade levels did better this spring using Polaris than last spring with paper registration cards, so she “consider[s] that a success.”
The sophomore class had the most dramatic improvement, with 15.7 percent more students getting into all four of their first choice classes this spring. Continuing recent trends, across the grades, there was an eight percent increase of students registering for their top choices. According to Brackett, this smaller average is partially due to the fact that seniors tend to sign up for fewer than four classes.
Brackett did not report complaints from faculty.
“I heard that the system improves advising because it gives faculty what they need at their fingertips,” she said.
Associate Professor of Psychology Suzanne Lovett added that her junior and senior students “felt like it worked really well.”
Classics 1101—Classical Mythology, taught by Michael Neidahl—was the most popular course this round of registration; it is traditionally a very popular course.
Brackett said that no classes were cut, but some lab sections were added and registration limits were increased to accommodate student demand.
Brackett noted that Polaris had a better success rate because the Office of the Registrar was able to adjust course offerings before it processed all class requests.
Student reaction was generally positive.
“It’s helpful to see how many spots are available in a class that I am interested in taking,” said Charlie Campbell-Decock ’17.
“It’s much easier to make changes [on Polaris] than…on a piece of paper that might be lost or misread,” said Jenny Hughes ’16. “I got all my classes and mostly everyone I know got all of theirs as well.”