Go to content, skip over navigation


More Pages

Go to content, skip over visible header bar
Home News Features Arts & Entertainment Sports OpinionAbout Contact Advertise

Note about Unsupported Devices:

You seem to be browsing on a screen size, browser, or device that this website cannot support. Some things might look and act a little weird.

Bowdoin’s course registration system is unusually fair. Why replace it?

April 19, 2024

This piece represents the opinion of the author .

Bowdoin has one of the only course registration systems in the country that puts students first. At many other colleges, students’ course schedules are determined by their availability and Wi-Fi at the time they register for classes. But at Bowdoin, we have over a week to plan their classes and can register at times that fit our busy lives.

Soon, though, Bowdoin is going to lose this distinction. Starting in spring 2025, students will have to register first-come, first-serve, in groups determined by class year. This change troubles me. Bowdoin’s existing course registration system is built for Bowdoin students. It’s built for students who want to take the time to think about their courses. It serves students who want to go to office hours, meet with their advisors and ask upperclassmen for advice. Most importantly, it’s built to ensure that each student has an equal chance to register for the courses they need and want to take.

Our course registration system is one of many things at Bowdoin that helps alleviate division between students. We all get the exact same laptops and the exact same iPads. We all eat the same award-winning food, allowing us to eat with our friends no matter how much each of us can afford to eat off campus.

I know that these efforts aren’t perfect, and I know we are not all the same. We all come from different financial backgrounds, from families with different levels of education and from all different kinds of hometowns. But despite these differences, we can come together in Thorne or in Searles as close to equals as we can be.

Why are we stopping this work now? Will my classmate who is researching on a boat in New Zealand for a study-abroad program be able to log on at the same time to register for courses as my friend sitting next to the Wi-Fi router in Smith Union (who is ready to go to the TechHub when Workday stops working)? Will my roommate who needs to go home for the weekend for a family emergency be able to register for courses at exactly the same time as someone who has been seated, laptop open, in Hubbard for the past 30 minutes, counting down the seconds? What about my friend, who recently got diagnosed with a concussion, and who is instructed not to use screens for a week? Are these people supposed to sacrifice their study abroad programs, their families and their health, just to conform to the College’s new idea of how course registration should work?

I don’t think they should.

I think the College should be proud of the system we already have. We do course registration the correct way, the equitable way, the fair way. I’m not a machine. I’m not built for the frantic and stressful environment this new system fosters.

Bowdoin should put the person first, not the computer program.

I bragged about Bowdoin’s course registration process to my friends at home every time we had to select classes for the next semester. Their jaws always dropped. They were always jealous. I was always proud. I was proud to have chosen an institution that cared about its students. Bowdoin cared enough to ensure we finished our majors. Bowdoin cared enough to put us, our diversity, our mental-well being and our curiosity first.

Why stop now? Why not ask for our opinions?

Bowdoin, we love our course registration system. Please don’t break our hearts.

Ruby Fyffe is a member of the Class of 2026.


Before submitting a comment, please review our comment policy. Some key points from the policy:

  • No hate speech, profanity, disrespectful or threatening comments.
  • No personal attacks on reporters.
  • Comments must be under 200 words.
  • You are strongly encouraged to use a real name or identifier ("Class of '92").
  • Any comments made with an email address that does not belong to you will get removed.

One comment:

  1. Eric Traub says:

    Ruby, bravo! This is an eloquently rendered and thoroughly convincing case for the system we know and love. Keep fighting for what’s right.


Leave a Reply

Any comments that do not follow the policy will not be published.

0/200 words