My Schedule Builder failed to make enrolment easier for students

Enrolment is important for our academic year, yet there's no reliable system for it.

I’ve never been more flabbergasted by enrolment than I was this year. So far, the university’s efforts to “help students easily build and customize their schedules” with My Schedule Builder haven’t impressed me. Rather than finally fix issues with BearTracks, the University of Alberta only made things worse. Ultimately, we are still in need of a reliable course registration website. These systems determine what classes we get into, which is vital to our education. We can’t focus on building our futures when we can’t even enrol in the classes we need.

The U of A introduced My Schedule Builder to help students build their schedules. Personally, I couldn’t even use My Schedule Builder to enrol in my classes because the page wouldn’t load. I had to manually enrol in my classes, one by one, through the “Manage Classes” page on BearTracks. The problems with the system left me with a completely different schedule than what I had originally planned. I wasn’t the only one — plenty of students had the same experience. The site put us into a queue behind hundreds of students, or the page simply wouldn’t load.

While My Schedule Builder made it easier to build a schedule, it didn’t actually improve enrolment — the most important part. There’s no point in making a schedule when you have to change all of it because the site isn’t working. The university missed the mark with their “new and improved” course registration system, and students were left frustrated. And they’ll be dealing with the aftermath for the rest of the academic year.

Because of the issues with My Schedule Builder, I and many other students weren’t able to register in classes that we needed. This doesn’t only cause issues on enrolment day, but it messes up our entire academic year. Most U of A students have required classes they need to take to graduate. Often they need to take these classes in a specific timeframe or risk pushing back their graduation. When the university only offers some classes, required or not, once or twice a year, it’s essential that students are able to enrol with ease.

The university really hyped up My Schedule Builder, only for it to not work on the day of enrolment. Don’t get me wrong, it was an improvement for some areas — but not for the actual enrolment part. The new site shows you what classes are being offered in what term the moment you search them up. The old system required you to check everything manually. Besides that, the new system automatically identifies time conflicts, and you can easily compare different schedules. But that doesn’t matter when the site still crashes while thousands of students fight for the last seat of a class. 

One major issue I and other students noticed was the lack of a watchlist. Without a watchlist, getting into a class that filled up during our enrolment day is more difficult. The watchlist has simply disappeared. According to the U of A, it will be “available soon.” What defines soon? We don’t exactly know, but students needed it months ago. Until the university brings it back, we have to keep checking BearTracks at random to hope there’s a seat open. 

Outside of finals, enrolment is one of the most important days of the academic year. It’s another stepping stone to students’ futures. Tens of thousands of students rely on My Schedule Builder to enrol in their classes. Why can’t the U of A build a site that can handle tens of thousands of students? Especially since the U of A has ambitious goals to increase student enrolment by 16,000 in the next ten years. If the university can’t fix these issues, what will enrolment look like when even more students need the site? It’s the twenty-first century and the university has plenty of resources and talent available to them. They should’ve figured out the internet by now.

While My Schedule Builder helped students build their schedules, it only made enrolment day more hectic. You’d think as a leading university in Canada, the U of A would be able to come up with a better system. Or at least not take away the things that worked properly, like the watchlist. The university needs to listen to the complaints of the students and take the time to fix these issues that we’ve been dealing with for far too long  now.  

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