Freshmen say

Sean McCoy

The hassle of long lines in Fraser Hall to sign up for classes is a thing of the past, thanks to the University’s World Wide Web registration system. And that sets the University apart from other comparably sized universities, according to a survey published this spring.
The Quality of Freshman Student Life Survey showed 68.1 percent of University freshmen were satisfied with the registration process — more than those at the University of Texas- Austin, who conducted the survey, and the University of Washington- Seattle.
The survey was administered in Minnesota in response to former University President Nils Hasselmo’s University 2000 plan, which called for improvement in undergraduate education.
“The University has invested a lot of money to make this place more user friendly,” said research director Roger Harrold. “This survey will set a benchmark for future surveys.”
Students have also noticed the improvements in the registration process, which began in 1994 with the University’s Lumina computer system and expanded to the Web in 1997.
“There has been a vast improvement in registration compared to three years ago,” said Amy Bjorklund, a College of Liberal Arts senior.
First tested on about 100 students in the School of Nursing, the Web was offered to all students in winter 1997. It differs from old systems, such as Lumina, in that students can register from any Internet-compatible computer.
The 83.9 percent computer literacy rate of University freshmen also affected their satisfaction with the Web registration system.
“It’s amazing,” Harrold said. “A student in Russia taking distance learning courses can register from Russia.”
Almost 90 percent of freshmen reported that they had easy access to a computer. While 47.1 percent own a computer, less than one percent said they can use the computer labs.
When asked whether he thought it was difficult for University students to access computers, Walter Library computer lab attendant Wooyoung Choi said, “I don’t think so, except during noon time when especially Walter lab is really busy. There are many labs available at the University.”
This busy period from 11 a.m. to noon is when 91.8 percent of undergraduates are on campus, according to the 1996 Student Interest Survey.
Besides registration, officials said the three universities were more similar than different. Freshmen at all three universities said they “like” their school. About 80 percent of University freshmen said they either “like” or “love” the University.
Although the University has conducted similar surveys in the past, this is the first to focus on freshmen.
Results from the Student Interest Survey of 1996 show that 56.6 percent of all undergraduates are either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the University. The results of a 1991 survey were nearly identical.
Reasons given for freshman satisfaction varied. But officials said the experience of living in residence halls and the many activities available at the University were generally considered positive attributes.
“There are a lot of different classes you can take here,” said CLA freshman Nick Greene, who added that he enjoyed moving from a small-town to the city. “There’s a large variety of things you can do around here.”
However, all of the survey’s findings were not positive. University officials said the most disturbing discovery is that one-third of freshmen skipped a class once a week or more. The students said they ditched class “because it just didn’t seem worth going,” according to the survey.
Bjorklund said the lack of seriousness about school helped make freshman year her favorite.
“Skipping class is not new and if the class is boring and they don’t take attendance, it can happen,” Harold said. “It’s been on the minds and agendas of not only academics but also student services.”