The Office of the University Registrar is evaluating alternative options for replacing Georgetown’s current class registration system by February 2017, including changing the current pre-registration system to a live registration program.
Georgetown University Student Association’s Outreach Committee organized a town- hall discussion on the future of Georgetown’s registration system in the Healey Family Student Center Social Room last night. University Registrar John Q. Pierce spoke about the two potential systems and fielded questions from around 30 students for over an hour.
Georgetown currently has a registration system where students pre-register for classes before they finalize their registration. In a live registration system, all students would register for classes at the same time and learn their results instantly.
The re-evaluation of Georgetown’s registration system was spurred by the need to upgrade the current registration software system, which was introduced in 2009.
The university has the option to upgrade from the current registration software system, a product of Ellucian Higher Education called Banner 8, to a newer system, Banner 9. Banner 9 would include a number of changes from the current software, most prominently the introduction of the live registration system without a pre-registration period.
The university’s second option is to purchase an entirely new student registration system from Workday, the company that currently provides Georgetown’s human resources and finance software. The Workday system — which is still under development — would include a pre-registration system.
Georgetown has signed on as a partner for the Workday development program and will have substantial input into the company’s new student registration software.
Implementing the Workday system would be a major financial investment for the university in comparison to upgrading from Banner 8 to Banner 9. When the university last purchased student registration software in 2009, the software cost the university $17 million.
Pierce said he believes that upgrading to Banner 9 would incur a number of fiscal and convenience benefits for the university.
“We think the [Banner 9] registration process might be actually better; it would facilitate the mobile app, and if we went to cloud computing where we didn’t have to invest so much money in it … it would cost less to maintain it and thus keep tuition dollars down,” Pierce said.
GUSA representatives originally raised the possibility of eliminating the pre-registration system with university administrators last year but have since changed their stance on the issue.
“[GUSA] started having some conversations with students and found that their sense of what students wanted was not actually shared with everybody, and I would say what happened this year is the active students now believe that we should keep pre-registration,” Pierce said.
According to GUSA Outreach Committee Chair and Henle Village Senator Richie Mullaney (COL ’18), GUSA has considered the possibility of implementing a student-body referendum on the pre-registration issue to further gauge student opinion.
“We’re still learning about the potential changes, but [a student referendum] is absolutely a possibility in order to send a message to the administration about what students think, whatever that may be,” Mullaney said. “We’re exploring different ways to gauge student opinion because this affects every single student in a fundamental way.”
Mullaney said that student input on the issue of registration is important and stressed the necessity of communication between the student body and administrators.
“GUSA’s role at this early point in this conversation is to facilitate an honest transparency and communication between the registrar’s office and the student body,” Mullaney said. “GUSA really wants to inform the students of what’s happening and also gauge student opinion so the administration doesn’t make any decisions without knowing exactly what the students think.”
Many students at the town hall expressed worry about the effects of losing the pre-registration period with the Banner 9 software and having to compete heavily for courses against fellow students. Sarah Alshawi (COL ’18) said she enjoys the current pre-registration system due to its emphasis on comprehensive research for classes.
“I personally have had a decent amount of success with it. I like the fact that you can rank your preferences and also put alternates,” Alshawi said. “I think the way the system is set up encourages you to look at all of your options and really go through the course catalogue and see all of the courses that are offered to you.”
Other students expressed concern that a live registration process in place of a pre-registration period could make it more difficult to register for required courses and increase the possibility of falling off a four-year graduation track.
Edom Tesfa (SFS ’18) failed to register for “Problem of God” her first three semesters and was finally enrolled in the course this semester. She credits the pre-registration period for her current enrollment.
“Had I gone through live registration, I probably would not have gotten into the course, especially since the professor has reasonably high demand,” Tesfa said. “I work, I take intensive Chinese and I just don’t have that many options to take required courses. I would have been at risk of not graduating on time had this happened multiple times.”
Pierce said maintaining a strong four-year graduation rate remains a primary goal of the registration system and the registrar’s office.
“The underlying purpose of our job creating the schedule of classes and running registration is to see that particularly the students in the four traditional undergraduate schools graduate in four years. That’s one of our claims to fame, that’s one of the issues that keeps [Georgetown] ranked highly, that’s one of the reasons your parents are paying us all this money to educate you,” Pierce said.
Off-Campus GUSA Senator Eric Henshall (COL ’16) said he was surprised that student opinion at the town hall seemed so strongly in favor of keeping the pre-registration period.
“I think it was interesting to see that a lot of the students in the room like pre-registration, because I know there’s often a lot of angst especially this time of year when results are coming out. … And so I think that shows that students really do like the ability to prioritize their classes and then have the option to do pre-registration completion in December,” Henshall said.
Alshawi said that while it is disappointing that the registration system might change, the consultation process has been beneficial.
“I was unpleased that things potentially will get worse, but I was relieved that there does seem to be a lot of thought being put into it and that the students’ concerns about how much the system represents them is being taken into account,” Alshawi said.