Whenever the time of year for priority registration on OWLnet arrives, students utter a collective sigh. The availability of classes, server-down notices and the hassle of staying up past midnight just to register are among the concerns of almost every student. At 11:59 a.m., thousands of students rush to their computers to register on OWLnet and that’s when hopes of future classes are either realized, or in the case of most underclassmen, denied.
“You know, you’re on there and it turns 12 o’clock and everyone rushes on,” junior engineering technology major Michael Mahan said. “Before you had this class all set up and all of a sudden, you don’t. And you do it again. But that messes up your time especially if you’ve got a job. Then it’s like, ‘Oh, now I have to take a night class when I could have taken it [at] 8:40 in the morning?'”
Valry-Michell Leroy, a junior public health major and a transfer student, couldn’t help but compare Temple’s registration to that of the College of New Rochelle in New York, where she previously attended school.
“I hate priority registration on OWLnet,” she said. “I transferred here and in my old school, they did it [registration] as everyone meets with their adviser and you get your classes that way. And they had enough classes for everyone who was in the major so that you wouldn’t be behind in schedule and it wouldn’t be mandatory
for you to take summer classes.”
Junior criminal justice major Matt Jaxheimer has no problem with priority registration, giving first dibs on classes to students with the most credits. Instead, he questions the midnight start.
“Those who work and attend full-time classes have better things to do at 12 o’clock at night than to register for classes,” he said. “I think the time should change, but credit-wise I think it’s a good idea.”
According to Associate Vice President of Computer Services Barbara Dolhansky, the ordering of priority registration is based on and arranged by the number of credits a student has completed. This staggering of credits is date-sequenced. The date changes at midnight, allowing the next group of eligible students to begin registering for classes as soon as they are available.
Keeping up with the demands of OWLnet during priority registration isn’t an easy task for Computer and Information Services, which during times of heavy traffic has extra staff on call to monitor the OWLnet servers and infrastructure. Dolhansky noted that the network, the software and numerous servers comprise the actual infrastructure of OWLnet.
The staff on hand begins to monitor the system at 11 p.m. and stays on campus until 2 a.m. the following morning. At 12:01 a.m., Dolhansky said the surge of activity starts and the 4-year-old servers almost always have to be rebooted several times a night. That accounts for the downtime that many students encounter when trying to register. In addition to that, only about 1,000 students are allowed to concurrently register at a time. When the server goes down, 200 concurrent lines are cut, leaving only 800 until the system is rebooted.
“The server downtime or overload doesn’t occur every single night, so it depends on where you are in the eligibility matrix to register,” Dolhansky said. “We encourage students to try at midnight. Students
do get through. But if they have difficulty, the activity usually begins to subside around 12:50 to 1:10.” She added,
“I apologize, Computer Services really apologizes for the inconvenience and, really, the unavailability. We intend to continue to monitor and do anything we can to provide uninterrupted service.”
When priority registration is in full swing, many academic offices have their own issues to deal with regarding students. Danielle Reinhart, an acting director for the College of Liberal Arts advising center, had a few pearls of wisdom to share with students.
“If [students] are registering online, there’s not a lot to do until the system gets back up,” she said. “Sometimes it just means waiting a little bit. “One thing that we like to tell students is to plan ahead, think ahead for a couple of semesters, so that you know exactly what you’re looking for,” she continued. “Once you’re able to get online, it makes things much easier.”
Angela Moseley can be reached at email@example.com.