What was registration like before internet technology?

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

Before computer preregistration, “arena” registration (similar to first-year student registration) was used. Although stressful, the arena meetings were also very efficient.

Computer registration was used throughout the nineties and was followed up with an arena meeting for students who were lotteried out of certain courses. In 1996, the current computer preregistration structure was born consisting of advising, possible holds, the 4.5 credit limit, and lotteries. The “drop/add” period begins as soon as lotteries are completed, accomplishing the same goals without a campus wide meeting.

No matter what the format of preregistration is, there are a lot for stressors involved. Martin Warner, registrar, advises students to always remain flexible and have alternate courses ready. “Have a backup plan you love almost as much as your first plan, and then if you go to plan B, all is still wonderful,” he says.

Warner adds that he is currently exploring the idea of computer preregistration for first-year orientation. “We haven’t worked out all the bugs yet,” he says, “The fact remains that a large meeting is an extremely efficient format for resolving all sorts of things, so we have kept it thus far.”

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