December 19, 2018
Thank you for registering online!
By Lyn Decker
As registration approaches each term, the anxiety level goes way up. The office staff starts to fret and feel anxious. Will the system behave? Will there be enough seats in the popular courses? Will everyone get at least one of their desired courses? How many people will get stuck because they don’t know their username or password? Will the office be able to handle all the calls and emails?
When the online registration system was first implemented for the fall 2013 term registration, a little more than a quarter of our Osher members were real troupers and tried. Yes, there were some big glitches, and yes, there was a steep learning curve, but over time – through trial and error – we have together (staff and members) turned our registration system into a tremendous tool for everyone. Now, almost 95% of membership use the online registration system to register. Fantastic!!!
When we first started using the Lumen’s/Augusoft system, we had a volunteer, fortified with a case of wine, helping from his home. Bob’s job was to calmly walk people through the process of registering online. Meanwhile, back at the office, the staff handled hundreds of calls and responded to many frantic knocks on the door for help. That volunteer is now out of a job and the office door is wide open, waiting for someone to come in for help! These days, few come.
Prior to Augusoft, registration took the office staff and a team of volunteers a good week to get everyone registered and students didn’t receive their confirmations until weeks later. Registration now takes less than a day and everyone receives his or her confirmations within minutes of registering. Using this registration system, the staff is able to see who is stuck in their cart and proactively call them to inquire whether they need some assistance to complete their registration.
Unfortunately, there will probably always be a few that the system will not be perfect for but, for the most part, the students of Osher at Carnegie Mellon should be proud that they have mastered the art of shopping online for their courses. I know I am proud of them!
So what’s up with the “surprise” aspect of registration? Why can’t registration start on a pre-announced day at a pre-determined time? Both are good questions, BUT there are reasons why we do it the way we do: First, once the system is turned on for registration, the staff has time to test the system, get most of the kinks resolved, and send the notices out. This typically takes about an hour. The second, and more important reason, is that the “random” aspect makes the whole process the fairest way for everyone to register. A random surprise notice gives everyone the same equal chance to get the most desired course(s) or the course(s) with fewest seats. For example, one time you might be in the dentist chair when registration is announced but next time, chances are, that you won’t be!
The most common complaint comes when someone didn’t get into a course. Know that it isn’t because of the system or the way registration is handled, it is because there aren’t enough seats for everyone. This is because the study leader has set a limit, or, because the room assigned has only so many chairs. Know that the office tries really hard to open up more courses or find more space with more chairs; this is the reason why you should always go onto the waiting list if you don’t get into the course.
The Augusoft system is not just for registration time, though. It remains the best place to get the most up-to-date information on your current registrations and members are encouraged to check it often. A great time to practice navigating the system is when there is no pressure; take some time between registrations to explore and become more familiar with the site. The office staff is always willing to answer questions and, hopefully, ease anxiety using the system. Our door is always open; stop on in!
And, thank you for registering online!