Save Optimization Algorithm Gets Mixed Reactions – The Bates Student


Enrollment in Winter 2023 classes will be determined by an optimization algorithm as opposed to the old grade-based, first-come, first-served system popularized during the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s post-pandemic algorithm will not take into account a student’s major, minor, or class year.

Registration opens Saturday at 12:00 p.m. and closes at 4:00 p.m. on November 11. Students can enroll for up to 4.5 credits during this time, and all students are treated equally by the algorithm regardless of when they enter their course preferences during the enrollment window.

The optimization algorithm will then assign classes. Since the goal of the system is to “try to get as many students into as many courses as possible”, according to the Bates Registrar’s Office and Academic Systems websitethis may mean placing students in other sections of the same course.

Professors can specify a desired class mix in the event that a class is overloaded, and students are still allowed to petition to try to get into the class. The petition will be available on Garnet Gateway and will begin on November 16 and run until November 19. The faculty will review student petitions during the Thanksgiving holiday and notify students of the outcome of their petitions on November 30.

Students will then be able to add or remove courses for the winter semester 2023 starting at 7:00 a.m. on December 5. Add/remove is first come, first served.

According to Acting Registrar Megan McHenry, registration for fall 2021 and winter 2022 has followed a first-come, first-served system staggered by grade level. Students enrolled in “blocks of two hours per class year, up to 1.0 credit on the first day of enrollment, then returning to full days per class year for the next four days,” McHenry explained. in an email.

Coinciding with the general easing of other COVID-19 related restrictions, enrollment last year for the short term and for this year’s fall semester also used the new optimization system.

“The Optimization and Petition system offers some unique features,” McHenry wrote. “As it’s not a first-come, first-served principle, students don’t have time constraints to register. In most cases, students have an equal chance of gaining access to a particular course. So, for example, freshmen don’t end up with a very limited selection because all other classes go first.

McHenry acknowledged that registering for classes can be a contentious process for students, with some becoming unhappy if they can’t get into their first-choice classes.

“Regardless of course enrollment method, every year we hear complaints about the process,” McHenry wrote. “However, we did not see a significant change in the dissatisfaction expressed by the students.”

Some students, like Poppy Marsh ’26, expressed positive opinions about returning to optimization.

“Any course registration makes me anxious, but at least it’s not the worst [it could be]. I feel like first-come, first-served is really, really stressful for me personally and for a lot of students who are, like, climbing over each other to get something,” Marsh said.

Mitchel Soederburg, a sophomore with experience in both forms of enrollment, agreed with Marsh.

“I hated first come, first served. For what you didn’t get I feel like everyone was emailing teachers so it was more work for us [and] I feel like it was more work for the teachers,” Soederburg said. “I think it’s good to do optimization.”

Previously, students had to get up early in the morning to register for classes alongside all the students in their class, which often led to system crashes.

As McHenry alluded to, not all students fully agree on the benefits of the new system.

“I like the first-come, first-served aspect because you have to be responsible and ready to pick your classes, so sometimes it’s a little easier than optimizing,” Spencer Danziger ’23 said.

Maddy Ewell ’24 believes that the optimization process, while creating a less stressful environment for course registration itself, often leaves students on a tight degree schedule without all the courses they need.

“No prioritization for majors and the removal of preference selection really hurts people with strict course requirements,” Ewell said. “Especially as someone with little or no wiggle room, it’s extremely frustrating not being able to secure even one class placement that I need to graduate. I wish the system would allow us to sign up for a course first so it wouldn’t be as stressful waiting for optimization to get us into that necessary section.

Keira on January 25 echoed Ewell’s statements.

“It doesn’t really sound good, especially for people who need that class to graduate,” January said. “I feel like they could do stage optimization… where the seniors do it first and they get their courses, then the juniors, then the sophomores, then the freshmen. … Freshmen get the last pick, because it’s not the end of the world if they don’t get a certain class.

Substantial changes to the registration process are not likely in the short term. “This system is legislated by the governing body of the faculty…and we are required to use it,” McHenry wrote.

For students who are worried about enrolling in classes for the upcoming semester, McHenry offered some handy advice.

“My biggest piece of advice to students is to know that enrollment isn’t final when you add stuff in that first week. Students often make their choices only to be surprised in the end when a course is no longer on their record,” she wrote. Simply “adding” a class to Garnet Gateway during the initial registration window does not guarantee a place in that class.

“When we send the notification that results are available after optimization, check your schedule to see what you’ve gotten into so you can decide if you want to request things you didn’t get,” said McHenry added. “If you really want to get into something you’re eligible for, submit this petition! It only takes a minute or two and it’s worth a try.

His final piece of advice was to take advantage of available resources.

“The Student advice portal has a ton of information, including a video that provides an overview of signing up,” MeHenry wrote. “I also recommend subscribing to the Important Dates and Deadlines Calendar (also on the Student Advice Portal) to stay on top of things, both when enrolling and in general.”


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