Here’s What Computer Science Students Think About Albert

“It’s mostly poor coding in my opinion."

A student browses NYU Albert's mobile app. ( Staff Photo by Alana Beyer)

Frustration. Anxiety. But mostly just confusion: all feelings ironically induced by the student information system known as Albert —  a program that was designed to make course registration easier has made it infinitely more challenging. The importance of the role the system plays in registration is undeniable, but many students seem to have personal vendettas against it. So we asked Computer Science majors the question we’ve all been asking ourselves: What’s wrong with Albert and how can we fix it?

“It’s mostly poor coding in my opinion,” Tandon junior Andrew Son said. “There are a lot of text bugs when choosing classes, the class description is pretty useless, server traffic issues [and] the duo mobile concept is highly inconvenient, especially if you don’t have your phone with you.”

In a 2016 NYU IT Satisfaction Survey report, 43 percent of staff and student responses were recorded as “less than satisfied” with the Albert website. Since the report was released, some changes have happened to Albert’s interface — it is, in fact, much nicer to look at — but students still feel like the program could be better organized and easier to use.

I personally don’t feel like it’s changed at all,” Son said. “It’s kind of like NYU started on improving the web service, like user interface, but they stopped halfway. Functionality and usability are still kind of horrendous.”

Like Son, CAS senior and Computer Science major Bradley Brecher believes Albert could use some work. However, he distances himself from Son’s criticism of the mechanical aspect of Albert and instead calls attention to the unnecessarily complicated registration format.

“I don’t think there are such issues with Albert from a technical stance. I think there are more issues with registration period,” Brecher said. “I like to compare registration to playing the stock market. Classes open, classes close. There’s like a system behind NYU that no one can figure out. But if you pre-plan, then the ride will be smoother rather than just riding and messing up. And then you’re screwed.”

Brecher is the Director of Outreach of the BUGS, NYU’s open source computer science club, which is dedicated to giving aspiring coders opportunities to contribute and engage in the larger tech community by making the code for all its projects available to the public and free to alter. Currently, he is mentoring a collaboration between BUGS and the Rensselaer Center for Open Source, which aims to implement a registration app called Yet Another Course Scheduler at NYU.  

YACS is a project lead by Ada Young, a 2017 graduate from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and current software developer for Rensselaer Center for Open Source. YACS was introduced to Brecher after Young pitched the idea while BUGS was looking for external open source projects.

“What YACS does is it provides a very easy-to-use fast interface for browsing and searching courses, and it allows you to very easily select the courses and sections you’re interested in, then, with the click of just one button, generate every possible schedule,” Young said. “So when registration time comes all you do is you just take the course numbers that you decided you wanted in YACS and put them into the registration system and you’re good to go.”

Brecher hopes that YACS will be implemented at NYU in the near future to make the process of registration a little bit more pleasant.

“Our goal isn’t to alter Albert — that’s the school’s domain. Our goal is to just make the process easier,” Brecher said.

While students like Brecher are trying to take problems with Albert into their own hands, the future of Albert is unknown. Hopefully we will see a day where there’s less to complain about.

Email Arin Garland at [email protected]

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