Missing classes, inaccurate class status for Core Curriculum courses, and slow updates regarding course times plagued student registration for the fall 2019 semester.
Each semester, students are given specific slots during which they select and register for courses through Columbia Student Services Online, with preference given to upperclassmen. Starting in spring 2019, the University Registrar began using a new course management application for the registration process, resulting in a number of technical difficulties that impacted the start of the registration cycle on Monday this week. According to the Registrar, slightly over two percent of undergraduate courses—106 courses in total—were impacted, and all issues have been resolved as of Thursday afternoon.
“While the vast majority of enrollment transactions have been flawless, there have been some issues that the relative newness of the tool has introduced. A new application of this size and complexity will also have some things that require more attention,” the Registrar said in a statement to Spectator.
One of the errors in the system resulted in many classes, including several core classes, to display that they were open and available to add when, in reality, the classes were full. Masterpieces of Western Art, Masterpieces of Western Music, and various Physical Education classes were among the core classes effected. Students who tried to add these classes to their schedule encountered error messages.
Because this mistake was not apparent to students until the time for them to register actually came, some students said they were forced to adjust aspects of their schedules, which they had already planned, beyond just classes.
“Not only are my classes screwed up, but also my studying pattern and everything. I think these are little problems but when they add up and then you realize how it affects you throughout the semester. [You] didn’t want this class and naturally, your performance is also affected,” Kalsoum Mbacke, CC ’22, said.
Kareem Sidibe, CC ’22, is majoring in political science but could not initially register for many political science courses because those listed on SSOL did not match those listed on department websites or the bulletin board. In the end, Sidibe said he could not register for a single class within his major, and because his schedule was not finalized, he also could not plan his hours for work at the Law School.
“By the time [I] did find [classes] they were all full and the waitlists were open and I’m now on them, but that means I can’t plan any courses ahead of time until school starts,” he said. “Having an uncertain schedule right now also hinders my ability to create a work schedule next fall. … I am not able to create what would be my fall schedule with my boss until I can create my academic schedule, and I can’t do that.”
As of Wednesday, a faculty member in the political science department said they were aware of the problems and in the process of addressing them.
Other Core classes, including Contemporary Civilization—required for all Columbia College sophomores and optional for Engineering students—did not show up on Vergil, a system where students can find and plan available courses, though they did appear on SSOL, leading to confusion and delayed registration.
“I had a pretty set schedule for my particular purposes; my schedule is very rigid.
There’s only one section of Literary Texts and Critical Methods and one of CS Theory—two classes I had to take. It caused me a bit of anxiety realizing that these Core sections were not open—only other sections, sections that conflict with classes I have to take,” Nigel Telman, CC ’21, said.
Due to problems with SSOL, students experienced issues when they attempted to schedule courses using Vergil. One student, when trying to import her classes, only had one class move over to SSOL. Additionally, students reported that Vergil slowed down significantly during their registration time, delaying when they was able to register for their desired classes.
Mbacke emphasized the need for more time to plan ahead, given the complexities of courses and extracurriculars.
“A semester schedule needs to be thought through,” Mbacke said. “You need to think it through, so just waiting [until] a week before to let people know, I don’t think that’s very efficient or helpful.”