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Program in Creative Writing transitions to online sign-ups

Students no longer have to line up early in the morning by New South Building to register for workshops in the Program in Creative Writing.

Registration for fall 2014-15 will now take place electronically through SCORE, the University’s student course online registration engine.

The Program in Creative Writing offers small workshops that focus on poetry, fiction, literary translation and screenwriting. Students must apply to the program and be accepted in order to enroll. In the past, accepted students were given a date to sign up from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Students who arrived prior to 9 a.m. lined up in the New South lobby, and those unable to attend could send proxies.

Creative Writing Program Assistant Angelo Nikolopoulos said the department wanted to make signing up for a section more convenient for students.

“It was a bit medieval asking students to show up in person and wait in a rather long line,” he said. “Also, we didn’t want to disadvantage students who didn’t want to camp out early in the morning to get their desired section, so we thought moving to SCORE sort of leveled the playing field in terms of choosing the sections students wanted.”

Nikolopoulos said that using SCORE makes it difficult to reserve seats in each section for incoming freshmen while only granting accepted students permission to sign up. However, he added that the department eventually decided that the convenience that SCORE provides outweighed potential difficulties.

“It was easier and sort of more fair to have students come select their sections in person since they would all have the one chance to sort of get in line, but we felt that if we allowed all students to select the sections simultaneously in a given time, it would just mirror the same process. You would just have the comfort of doing it from your dorm room,” Nikolopoulos explained.

Program in Creative Writing Director Susan Wheeler said the department had received a number of complaints in the past from students who were unable to sign up in person, and the department had been thinking for some time about how to make the sign-ups easier.

“It’s always been heartening to see so many students physically line up to choose their sections, but, on the other hand, it hasn’t been ideal. We don’t want students to have to go through that,” Wheeler said.

Emily Reardon ’16 said she liked the old policy and thinks registration through SCORE creates uncertainty. Reardon has taken three workshops in the past and is a prospective creative writing thesis student.

“Now, your entire fate is left to the Internet, technology; it’s not like you have any say in whether or not you are going to get into a class,” she said. “Now, I have no say in whether or not I will actually get in because I can’t go in at midnight and wait. I have to wake up with everyone else because you don’t really need that same dedication anymore.”

Reardon explained that students’ willingness to queue up on the day of sign-up serves as a testament to the department’s excellency, noting that creative writing is the only department to require in-person sign-ups.

Allie Somers ’15 said she generally supports the new system but feels the physical sign-up session was more adventurous and allowed student to meet others interested in creative writing. Somers is a creative writing thesis student.

“I think it’s definitely more convenient to do it online, but I kind of thought of going in person as a rite of passage, as when you are very dedicated. It’s kind of fun to wake up early in the morning and go with everybody who wants to sign up for classes, and you can meet people who are really excited about taking certain professors,” Somers said.

She said she had woken up at 5 a.m. on the date of the sign-up session and found herself 10th in line.

Wheeler said she encourages student feedback on the sign-up method change, noting that students can simply send an email to Nikolopoulos.

“Students should let us know how it compares to other times they sign up and how it’s working for them, definitely,” she added.

Applications for 2014-15 fall workshops have increased by 10 percent compared with fall 2013. About half of all applicants for fall 2014 were given enrollment permission. Accepted students will select sections on SCORE beginning at 7 a.m. on May 19, Wheeler said.

Nikolopoulos said the new system is by no means set in stone.

“Of course, this is just an inaugural try, and I’m sure some issues might come up, so we are going to try to improve going forward from here,” he said.

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