‘Plan Ahead’ tool simplified spring course registration process, students say

Media Credit: Photo Illustration by Auden Yurman | Senior Photo Editor

Students who used the feature said it eased and accelerated course registration because they no longer had to add their courses one by one while registering.

Students registered for spring courses with a recently added GWeb feature, allowing them to instantly register for courses from a pre-planned schedule to expedite the sign-up process last week.

Interim University Registrar Katie Cloud said the “Plan Ahead” feature – which launched on GWeb in June 2022 ahead of freshman registration in August – allows students to create up to five schedules ahead of course registration and register for all of the courses in their pre-planned schedule at once by selecting “Add All” in the “Plans” section on GWeb. Students who used the feature said it eased and accelerated course registration because they no longer had to select their courses one by one while registering, but officials should still make improvements to GWeb, like modernizing the site’s layout.

“Plan Ahead was launched as a tool with the student experience in mind in order to provide an opportunity to plan upcoming course schedule options as students meet with their advisors in advance of registration,” Cloud said in an email.

In 2020, officials said they would focus on making improvements to GWeb, like creating an updated version of DegreeMAP, moving away from 2018 plans to replace GWeb entirely after the system’s vendor, Ellucian Banner, announced it would no longer update the software.

More than 10 students who used the feature said registering directly from a pre-planned schedule made course registration faster and less stressful, but GWeb is still an “outdated” platform in need of further remodeling, like an updated site that can handle more user traffic.

Theodora Greco, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, said using the feature to register for spring 2023 courses reduced the time she spent registering because she no longer had to type in each course reference number one by one while registering.

“For the past semesters, I’ve had to type in the CRNs one by one, and I get anxious and flustered and I feel like I make mistakes while typing,” she said. “But this time I had everything planned out, so it was very easy to quickly register for classes.”

Greco said in past semesters, GWeb would crash and log her out of her account, keeping her from securing spots in courses that filled up quickly.

“I feel like I was always behind and then others would get the spots that I wanted,” she said. “It definitely took a lot longer to register for classes, which put me at a disadvantage.”

Ryan McGowan, a sophomore majoring in international affairs, said registering for spring 2023 courses took him “seconds” because he submitted his pre-planned schedule immediately through the “Plan Ahead” feature. He said in past semesters, the high volume of students who register at any given time seemed to slow down the website and make the registration process more difficult.

Undergraduate course registration is split up over the course of five days, where students who have earned 90 or more credits all register on the first day and students who have earned zero to 29 credits all register on the last day.

“I think they need a better system than just everyone goes on at the same time and goes as fast as they can because even though it’s split up over five days – I mean, I have problems with it all the time, but maybe that’s because I don’t plan ahead – but I think it makes it difficult when you have so many people going on,” he said.

McGowan said while class registration can be difficult, GWeb provides services, like DegreeMAP, that officials could enhance by making the website’s layout look more modern.

“I love using DegreeMAP and all that stuff and seeing your transcripts,” he said. “I think it’s easy, but I think the system is kind of outdated and could use updates.”

Remi Rivard, a sophomore majoring in marketing, said class registration could become a simpler process for many students in the future if GW increased its promotion of the “Plan Ahead” feature to the student body.

The Office of the Registrar sent an email to undergraduate students earlier this month with tips on managing the course registration process, including an announcement of the “Plan Ahead” feature.

“If they got more people to know about this ‘Plan’ feature, that could be really helpful because I only found out from my roommate because I don’t really read GW’s emails as often,” she said. “But if more people knew about it, then registration would be a lot more organized and a lot faster for a lot of people.” 

Angelica Rojas, a sophomore majoring in nutrition, said beyond the “Plan Ahead” feature, officials should set spots in every course aside for students who need to take the course to fulfill a requirement for their major to further improve course registration.

“A lot of classes that I take might be required for me, but they might be an elective for someone else,” she said. “I think if they did something where you can make sure you’re getting your required classes out of the way, that could really help.”

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