Examining the aftermath of registration

Give WebAdvisor a break

by Teddy Corcoran

WebAdvisor gets a bad rap. Each and every year, we hear only complaints. Only about the people who did not get the classes they wanted. Only about those who must have angered the WebAdvisor gods. But WebAdvisor is not all bad. In fact, it has dimensions that we should all appreciate. That’s why I have created the top three reasons to love Webadvisor:

1)   It makes registration mornings noteworthy.

Few mornings are as action packed and exciting as those when course registration is on the line. If Webadvisor always ran smoothly and never froze up, there would be no more excitement before registering, and no more hilarious stories of “that girl” who got none of her classes or “that guy” who forgot to clear his cookies. The very real possibility of getting totally shafted also makes getting all your classes that much more thrilling.

2)   It works well 49 weeks of the year.

Much is made about the difficulties and frustrations that people experience from Webadvisor when trying to register for Fall, Winter and Spring courses. Yet people forget how well Webadvisor runs when they don’t need it to register for courses. Have you ever tried going on to Webadvisor just for the heck of it after registration is complete? It runs beautifully!

3)   It prepares us for the real world.

WebAdvisor isn’t always fair. It doesn’t always produce the results we would like. It seems to treat some people well, and it seems to shaft others each and every time. If this sounds familiar, it’s because Webadvisor works just like life. By working with Webadvisor each and every registration cycle, Washington and Lee students can be assured of gaining “real world” experience and can begin to contemplate the seemingly arbitrary nature of life and the inexplicable qualities of luck and fate. What can be more valuable than that?

Give WebAdvisor a wake-up call

by Conley Hurst

The shriek of my alarm clock wakes me at an unfriendly 6:45 a.m. Knowing that I cannot be late for this all-important engagement, I slowly rise out of bed, get dressed and head to a small computer lab in Huntley Hall.

I log into a computer, pull up the browser and enter the address. After a long few seconds of waiting, the page opens in all of its utilitarian glory: “Welcome Guest! This is Washington and Lee University’s implementation of WebAdvisor version 3.1.8.”

I will not be lulled into a false sense of confidence by this pitiful excuse for user-friendliness.

“If you have any questions or problems, please contact the Information Technology Services (ITS) Information Desk.”

Again with your trickery! Now it’s just messing with me. I have no doubt that problems will arise. But let’s not pretend that they will be fixed anytime soon.

I log into the site, select that I’m a student and enter the dungeon of “Course Registration.” I view my lengthy list of preferred sections, choose the courses that I will attempt (key word: attempt) to register for and begin the waiting. I sit anxiously as the hands on the clock make their way towards 7:30 a.m. As the second hand reaches the 12, I immediately click the “Submit” button along with a few hundred other students.

And then comes the longest few minutes of the year. My computer screen freezes as our mediocre server tries to sort through 500 requests all submitted at exactly the same time. The fate of my academic path has fallen into the hands of chance.

This year, my encounter with WebAdvisor ended happily. I got into all the classes that I wanted, but mainly because of the low-demand for these classes. For many other students, their encounters with WebAdvisor ended horribly.

For Pre-Med student Emerson Scheinuk, getting into the right classes was pertinent. But WebAdvisor timed his session out as he clicked submit because of “inactivity.”

“I hardly got any of the classes that I need for next term. It’s as if the program is trying to quietly ruin my life,” Scheinuk said.

For Todd Alan McDonald, a sophomore Accounting and Business Administration major and member of the golf team, the folly of WebAdvisor adds extra strain to his already busy schedule. Last year, Macdonald was forced to register for Winter term classes while participating in a tournament in North Carolina.

Because of the slow internet in the hotel, he ended up walking away from initial registration with spots in only three classes, all of which were not in his course of study. The system is not only “hard to use and confusing,” according to Macdonald, but it also leaves many students with unsatisfactory course schedules.

At a school with less than 2,000 undergraduate students, one would hope that course selection would be simple, easy and user-friendly. At Washington and Lee, however, this isn’t always the case. The student testimonials I have described are only the tip of the iceberg; I am sure almost every W&L student could offer his or her own story of WebAdvisor tragedy. I do not pretend to understand the complexity of the computing code that must go into such a program. But I do understand the inevitable trouble that it causes students every time registration rolls around.