Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Observer

Students, registrar prepare for spring 2024 course registration

Students of all grades, colleges and majors flocked to the Notre Dame PATH Class Search website Thursday, Oct. 26 to peruse the thousands of course offerings available for the spring 2024 semester.

The following day, students could also view their personal registration time ticket on NOVO (Registration Status and Holds). Conversation soon swept across campus, as students compared registration times and planned their ideal course schedules. 

But, what exactly goes into creating a master schedule for almost 9,000 undergraduate students? 

Rochelle Jones, associate registrar and academic services coordinator at the Office of the Registrar, explained that the process is fairly elaborate and depends on coordination with each academic department.

“So it’s kind of a hierarchy in terms of who has the authority to do what,” Jones said. “We in the registrar’s office don’t decide what classes are being taught. But what we do is, we have a tool that we open up to all the different departments on campus.”

Each department spends a few months preparing its offerings for the coming semester, using the previous semester’s schedule as a baseline and amending to account for professor availability, new courses and discontinued courses.

“So let’s say the anthropology department, they go into their anthropology schedule, and it starts out by listing what was taught in spring 2023,” Jones said. “They started looking at that like in August. So, August, September and then mid-October is when they’re creating all that.”

If a professor or faculty member wants to create a new course, they must first gain the approval of the department dean and go through the Academic Course Management Tool (ACM) to add the class to the Course Catalog. The Office of the Registrar explains this process further on their website.

“If they haven’t been taught before and if it’s a brand new course, it needs to be approved by the college dean. The content has to get approved, and they have to make sure there’s enough academic rigor and it’s something that should be given academic credit at Notre Dame,” Jones said. “Once the course is approved, it’ll sit in the Course Catalog and then they can decide whether they’re going to actually offer a section of it and in what semester.”

The Office of the Registrar website describes the Course Catalog as “a list of all active courses available to be taught each semester.” Additionally, courses “remain active and part of the Course Catalog unless five years has gone by without a section of the course being offered,” according to the website.

Jones estimates that, each year, about 1,000 new courses are added to the Course Catalog. For spring 2024, there are currently 5,624 courses listed on the PATH Class Search website. However, courses continue to be added to accommodate changing student preferences, and even global changes.

“Even after we had classes come out on Thursday, we had someone decide that they wanted to offer a new course and it was all about conflict in the Middle East. So it was very timely,” Jones said. “Obviously, three months ago, they didn’t know they wanted to offer that course. That makes sense. But we let them do it.”

Once each department reports the courses that will run next semester, the Office of the Registrar steps in to sort out schedule times and locations.

“There’s a lot of back and forth that goes on and it happens all the way up until like this past Thursday when classes went live,” Jones said. “So it’s quite a game to play … there’s a lot of moving pieces, a lot of moving parts.”

With the offerings established, the next question becomes: How are registration times are dictated?

Undergraduate registration for spring 2024 begins with the senior class on Nov. 13, followed by juniors on Nov. 15, sophomore on Nov. 17 and freshmen on Nov. 20. Jones explained that personal registration time tickets have been selected through the same process for 18 years now.

Students that have a normal classification — meaning that they do not qualify for early registration —are placed into one of two groups, depending on whether the last digit of their NDID is odd or even. Each semester, these groups alternate between early and late registration times.

As for each specific time ticket, those are randomly assigned to the students in each group, respecting the split between the early group and the late group.

Despite the amount of time and planning that each department and the Office of the Registrar put into course registration, Jones said she realizes that students may still have hiccups on registration day.

“It’s been a long, long, long time since we’ve had any kind of a system outage … but we know the tricks, like, if you can’t log-in for some reason, sometimes it has to do with what Wi-Fi you’re on or, you know, try to incognito browser. Maybe your Okta timed out in the background and you didn’t realize it,” Jones said.

For these reasons, Jones advised students, “If you’re are having problems, don’t wait — call us immediately.”

“Students can call our front desk or they can email us, but we have a whole team here at 6:15 a.m. every morning during registration,” Jones said. “So, if students have any problems, just call us immediately. Don’t wait two hours, or three hours. Get on the phone, because a lot of times we can help you immediately.”