Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Course Selection Process Causes Unnecessary Stress

KATIE CORT ’19

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The day of course selection I was home, snuggled in my bed. I set my alarm for 6:50 AM on the dot, knowing I would definitely need a few extra minutes to pull out my laptop and get everything loaded up. When the time came and my alarm went off, half asleep, I groggily reached for my laptop. I blinked rapidly as the bright light gleamed into my tired eyes, forcing me awake. The internet in my house was just updated, so I knew the Wi-Fi connection would not be an issue. No need to wake up extra earlier to get to the library, a tried and true technique used by many Trinity students. I figured I was good to go. I made it to the Trinity portal, and logged into TCOnline at precisely 6:55 AM. And then, to my horror, I got the spinning wheel of death on the bottom left corner.

Loading, and loading, and loading. The minutes ticked by as my anxiety began to heighten. The clock struck 7 AM and my screen was still loading. I knew I was already missing my chance to register for classes at this point, as I imagined everyone else in my grade rapidly clicking the “Enroll” button at the same time. I cursed myself for making some sort of error: I should have been online earlier, I should have waited to log in, I should have done this or that, and so on. I decided to refresh the page, but to no avail. In fact, the screen became completely blank and gave me an error code. I blinked my eyes, trying to grapple with this sad fate at 7:02 AM on a Monday. I tried using Google Chrome as well as Safari, but nothing was working. I decided to shut down my computer and try again in an hour, but I ended up falling back asleep and did not enroll until 11 AM. Luckily, I was able to get into all my classes, but I don’t think all students had the luck I did, particularly those with more popular majors.

My anecdote serves as a suggestion that the portal system needs to be updated. I chatted with several people after this happened, and they shared similar stories of not being able to log in and access their shopping carts at 7 AM. A group chat I’m in was exploding with various complaints about TCOnline crashing and being unresponsive. Even students abroad were having these issues and could not access their carts. It makes sense that the heavy traffic to the site at this time would cause some sort of crash, but I think there needs to be amends made to this process. Many would argue that dividing the class into groups set for certain time slots (I.E. Names A-H register at 7:00 am, H through Z register at 7:10) but many students feel this is not fair.

Another grievance I have with this experience is that there was no notice from administration or tech support at Trinity to console everyone and explain the issue. Students were basically left on their own to experience anxiety and stress over not being able to register for their chosen courses. This is particularly stressful for juniors and seniors who have important major requirements that need to be fulfilled, so getting into certain classes is essential.

In the future, I think some solutions to this problem are to notify students when the website is encountering an issue and explain what the problem is. This allows students to understand that it is nothing they are doing, but rather it is coming from the tech side of things. In addition, I think the format in which students register should be changed. One solution is to divide time blocks by course subject. For example, if you are an English major there would be a certain time slot to register for only English or rhetoric classes, that way there would not be hundreds of students trying to register during the exact same time period. The traditional system is not working, and I think more ways to fix this situation should be brought to the table, because picking courses should be exciting, and not require high levels of anxiety and stress.

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