Editorial: New college catalog hopefully makes life easier

Editorial Board

Class registration for Iowa State began March 22 for undergraduates.

As most students log on to the registration page of AccessPlus, they have a simple plan: Follow whatever template has been set aside for their major and get whatever classes fit with their work or sleep — partying — schedule, plus maybe a fun elective.

However, that plan rarely comes off without a hitch.

Students currently signing up for summer and fall 2011 semester will notice that some courses they had expected to include on their schedule do not exist within AccessPlus pages at all. Furthermore, some classes appear that cannot be found in the online or printed catalog.

After a visit with an academic adviser, students are informed the new catalog — previously released every two years — is what should be used when registering for classes. The hyperlinks for each course description in the registration process direct you to 2011-2013 catalog when you click on it.

Unfortunately, upon clicking the hyperlink you will find a “URL not found” webpage.

Although the university has not yet published the catalog needed to register for classes — it is forthcoming — students are expected to know the system of discovering their classes based on the older catalog.

Expecting students to understand any system that requires non-in-class-learned material is unfortunately doomed to failure.

To find current courses being offered at the university, including titles and seats open, you can go to the ISU home page and choose “Class Schedule” under the C Index. Regrettably, this is only updated once per day as far as how many seats are currently open — and everyone knows how often students drop and/or add courses multiple times between classes based on their friends’ schedules.

But now, the times they are a changin’.

The university is instigating a new catalog will be appearing only in digital form on a once a year basis; oftentimes the convenience of the online will outweigh the usefulness of the paper version because registration is all online anyway. The elimination of the print form will allow for the funding from it to be shifted to maintaining a more accurate and user-friendly version online, according to the Office of the Registrar.

There will even be the possibility of further search options to allow for ease of finding classes that involve, for example, studying film or the ever popular “alcohol appreciation” courses.

With the changes to the catalog, maybe the catalog will serve a “real” purpose in the student mind, rather than being a confusing and cumbersome option that in the end was frequently resolved by asking your academic adviser many, many questions in a meeting that tended to interrupt that notion of “nap time” college students seem to subscribe to.