First-years test Banner registration

By
Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Clarification appended.

It’s almost 4 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon in Jameson House’s lowest floor.

“I’m freaking out,” Margiana Petersen-Rockney ’11 says to her roommate, Sara Powell ’11.

Petersen-Rockney looks at the list of classes she has compiled through Web browsing, recommendations from her adviser and general word of mouth. Her list includes a wide variety of courses: NEUR 0010: “The Brain: An Introduction to Neuroscience,” ENGL 0180: “Introduction to Creative Nonfiction” and courses in classics, theatre arts and poetry.

First-years were slated to register for classes all at once on Tuesday, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., while Meiklejohn advisors roamed the halls of Keeney Quadrangle to offer counsel and a calming presence. Though upperclassmen pre-registered for fall classes in April using the electronic Banner system, the class of 2011 is the University’s first to select their freshmen courses online.

And so in Jameson as the registration hour nears, Petersen-Rockney has two problems: her class list is twice as long as it should be, and the clock isn’t slowing down. “I’ve got like two minutes to decide,” she says. “And I still don’t know.”

Just as the words leave her mouth, her roommate springs into action.

“Go go go!” Powell says. “It’s four!”

Fingers mash keyboards, typing furiously in the hope of securing those precious few spots in limited-enrollment classes. But the excitement ends abruptly as Powell stops and sinks into her chair.

“It’s still 3:59 in Banner-land,” she says.

Meanwhile, on Everett House’s second floor, Sam Holzman ’11 is repeatedly pressing the “refresh” button on his laptop. The atmosphere is more mellow than in Jameson, as funk music from one of Holzman’s favorite hometown groups, The Budos Band, pours out of his modified record player.

The prospective classics major from New York City has his five courses all picked out: three in the, one course in fiction-writing, and a first-year seminar – HIST0970Z: “Atlantic Pirates.”

“I know. It’s sweet,” he says with a raised fist.

The Friedman Study Center paints a much more frantic picture. Freshmen crowd around computer clusters, poring over the newspaper-sized Brown Course Listing, which contains every course the University offers in microscopic text.

Associate Provost Nancy Dunbar, University Registrar Michael Pesta and even Don Thibault, a representative of Banner developer SunGard Higher Education, form a home base of technical support as Meiklejohn advisers clad in bright green scramble busily about, fielding general questions about registration.

The “25 decibels” sign hangs a few feet above, ignored.

Back in Jameson, Banner-time catches up with real time, and the girls snap back into action.

Powell quickly consults her neatly written list of five courses – including history, French, and linguistics – and copies the Course Reference Numbers into the registration fields. Petersen-Rockney types in her PIN, but Banner rejects it – twice.

As she places a call to her faculty adviser, Holzman yells “I’m on! I’m on!” two floors up in Everett. He and his roommate are competing to see who can register first, and Holzman is behind. He starts tapping his foot, but not from nerves – “My Girl” by The Budos Band has just come on.

A few blocks away, in the Friedman Study Center, California native Evelyn Limon ’11 struggles with some of Banner’s more complicated elements.

“It sucks. I hate it. I don’t know how to do it,” she says. “But it’s probably just me. I’m really bad with computers.”

In Jameson, Powell breathes a sigh of relief. She’s made it into all five of her classes, including HIST1030: “Early Medieval Europe,” in which she grabbed one of only two remaining spots.

“I’d better like this class,” she says.

But across the room, a less fortunate story unfolds. Petersen-Rockney was able to locate her correct PIN, but the delay stalled her long enough to miss the cutoff for the poetry and creative nonfiction classes.

It’s an emotional moment for Petersen-Rockney, who takes a minute to clear her thoughts. She reminds herself of Brown’s pervasive flexibility and remembers that “no” rarely means “no” in the Open Curriculum. She quickly chooses two other courses and plans for shopping period.

Upstairs, Holzman has lost his friendly competition but has won the game of registration. He gets all five of his classes and jumps out of his seat.

“Yarrr!” he exclaims.

Ben Mishkin ’08, a Meiklejohn peer adviser, comes to Limon’s aid in the Friedman Study Center and helps her work through the kinks. The two select a course in Spanish, two in political science, and ECON0110: “Principles of Economics.”

As the dust settles on the three-hour registration session, Dunbar, Banner’s project owner, reflects on the day.

“It was terribly quick,” she says, adding that the few problems that arose were easily solved by the well-staffed support team of administrators and Meiklejohns. “I don’t know if I’ll be able to say the same after tomorrow.”

Registration for all other students begins today at 8 a.m., and Dunbar says her team is prepared.

As students and administrators alike gear up for the year’s academic kickoff, excitement is running high. “I’m ready to start,” Holzman says. “Enough of this Orientation crap.”

An article in Wednesday’s Herald (“First-years test Banner registration,” Sept. 5) stated that first-year registration took place from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday. Online registration for freshmen in fact ended at 7 p.m.

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