New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

Off Third: NYU takes course registration completely off the grid

After many complaints about Albert’s course registration system, the university announced it would make the program entirely analog — paper, pigeons, trolls and all.
Samantha Esmé Williams
(Illustration by Samantha Esmé Williams)

In a recent statement, NYU announced plans for a new course registration system to be put into place beginning in the spring 2024 semester. The update will take advantage of an ancient and primitive technology: paper.

According to the university, the switch was prompted by complaints about the stress-inducing nature of the current online registration system, Albert. Registering for courses on paper will make the process less harrowing for students, a university spokesperson faxed to WSN.

“You know, we’ve been hearing complaints that the system needs to be streamlined,” wrote the spokesperson. “Sure, we could just update the online portal, but that felt like too simple of a solution, so we decided to scrap the whole ‘online registration’ thing altogether. Paper is old-school and a bit of a throwback, and we think students will appreciate the aesthetic we’re going for.”

The central issue with the current online system is its overly complex interface, which has too many buttons for the average Violet to comprehend. Instead of buttons, these new paper forms will have a major-specific word search that, when complete, will reveal students’ remaining course requirements — a step the university hopes will help engage students.

“We’ve had this online registration ever since the internet was invented, so like, it’s got to be at least 50 years old,” one Stern senior said. “And this piece of paper is definitely not 50 years old. Besides, the paper cuts make me feel something for once, so that’s nice.”

In fact, students registering by paper won’t even need to open their laptops, much less sign into Albert. They won’t have to worry about using Duo Mobile and scrambling to fish out their phones to approve the multi-factor authentication — arguably the most panic-inducing part of the process. Instead, students will be asked a series of riddles to prove their identities to the trolls that will stand guard outside each adviser’s office.

With the new analog system, students will no longer have to worry about the effects that Albert’s century-old coding will have on their laptops. According to several students, the slow loading times and frozen pages have had dire consequences for their technology.

“Last time I tried to register online, my computer caught on fire,” said one Steinhardt sophomore. “I had to use a fire extinguisher and everything. At least if paper catches on fire I can just throw it out and get a new form.”

Instead of waiting 30 seconds for the portal to load and risking spontaneous combustion, all students have to do to access their paper forms is find the nearest printing press — the cutting-edge technology that has replaced all campus printers in a move the university called “sticking to an aesthetic.”

NYU also updated its waitlist system so students won’t have to deal with the stress of seeing their classes fill up in real time. Now, after students submit their registration forms, they will receive a letter delivered via a Washington Square Park pigeon confirming either successful enrollment or placement on a waitlist. Pigeons will also carry notifications of any course seats that open up, and the university said these spots will fill up on a first-come, first-serve basis depending on how quickly students can sprint to their adviser’s office.

“The university is proud of this new waitlist system, and is excited about the dual benefits it offers in terms of promoting both student fitness and mental health,” said the university’s spokesperson. “We hope students’ anxiety about getting into their classes will motivate them to get out and run to their advisers’ offices, and, in turn, that these runs will improve students’ mental and physical well-being.”

Students expressed cautious optimism about the switch, with many arguing that nothing could be worse than the current online system. Paper, students said, felt cooler than the online registration portal.

“I mean, I guess they could have updated the online portal,” one Tisch sophomore said. “But like, website design is hard and it could’ve been expensive, so I see why they chose paper. Plus, paper is totally vintage and only old people use it, so that’s like definitely super in right now.”

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Katherine Welander at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Katherine Welander
Katherine Welander, Copy Chief
Katherine Welander is a junior majoring in Art History and Anthropology. She is from the Bay Area, California and spends her free time reading, baking, wandering around art museums, playing Animal Crossing and drinking lots of iced lattes. You can find them on Instagram @kat.el3na.

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