Academic Fair kicks off online course sign-ups, McClain to become scheduler

Jake Saferstein

Students browsed booths on the quad during Academic Fair to help them sign up for courses next year.

The sign-up process is now completely online, and math teacher and head scheduler Beverly Feulner has begun training science teacher Krista McClain to take over the scheduling process.

The new online system allows students to see only courses they can take. The program filters out classes for students based on prerequisites and corequisites and ensures that students sign up for at least five core classes and no more than seven cores.

Teachers in the departments that previously required teacher permission for every course — math, science and world languages — filtered out courses for their students Feb. 16-22.

After students have signed up, the deans will check their students’ schedules. Their job will be easier now, as they will no longer have to check for the right numbers of core subjects. They will only have to ensure each student’s schedule fits them well.

After the deans have approved students’ schedules, another advantage of the new system will kick in. Feulner will no longer have to type up schedules. She will then pass on a list of how many students have signed up for each class to department heads, who will assign teachers to each section of every class. Once Feulner gets schedules back, the bulk of her workload — what McClain is training for will begin.

Every year, Feulner has to create the “Course Master,” which is a list of when and where every class and teacher will be. Feulner does this by creating a large poster of all eight periods and every teacher, and placing color-coded pieces of paper that represent classes in every slot.

“I wish [students] would take [the process] more seriously,” Feulner said. “That’s my job to make sure you guys get the courses you want. I don’t want it to be a theoretical exercise.”

After the Course Master is made, a computer program randomly assigns students to classes to fill their schedules.

Feulner tries to avoid having to change the Course Master. Often, making a single change can affect many classes, so most conflicts are resolved by having deans look at the master schedule and talk to students, explaining easy ways to fix problems. In August, when students request changes, Feulner tries her best to honor simple requests but will not change the Course Master, as that usually takes weeks of work.

McClain is training to take over for Feulner within one to two years. She is training by watching and learning what Feulner is doing.

“[Feulner] does it all,” McClain said. “She does way more work than anyone ever does. She started working on [the online system] last June, and worked all summer for the online process.”

McClain, like Feulner, looks forward to the challenge of creating the Course Master.

“I like the puzzle aspect; it’s challenging but fun,” McClain said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of work up to that part, lots of little things along the way, but, in the end, that’s what a scheduler does — put it all together.”

A photo gallery of Academic Fair can be viewed here.