Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Registering displeasure

Warning: The following post may exceed the recommended daily allowance for long, drawn-out tales of, er, woe and suffering. Proceed at your own risk.

I have many fond memories of my college years.

But registering for courses is certainly not one of them.

It all started with my first semester at Stern. Incoming students signed up for courses after all the upper classmen, and due to the vagaries of the alphabet, I was one of the last students in the entire school to register.

Which meant that by the time my turn came around, the pickings were fairly slim.

I still shudder when I recall running up and down the stairs between the registrar’s office and the computer room, where a large monitor displayed all the closed courses. (“What do you mean EVERY section of freshman composition is closed?! How can I be closed out of freshman comp?!! I’m a freshman!!”)

Desperate, I had no choice but to ignore my mother’s cardinal rule.

The key to a successful college career, she had declared, was to push off taking the dreaded speech class (a general requirement for all Stern students) until one’s senior year, in hope that the academic powers-that-be would somehow be inspired to change the requirements and allow one to graduate without it.

(The fact that speech was still a requirement nearly two decades after my mother had graduated Stern should have been my first clue that the strategy was doomed to fail. But I digress…)

But since there wasn’t too much else left to take that first semester, I was forced to sign up for speech.

(Postscript: The silver lining was that during our senior year, when all my friends were groaning their way through speech, I had the smug self-satisfaction of knowing that I no longer had to deal with that misery. But once again I digress…)

But B”H, in the intervening years -  during which time I graduated college; YZG and I got married; we made aliyah; I started a blog; I neglected that blog; and so on – I was gradually able to come to terms with my, ahem, ordeal.

You see, I was secure in the comforting belief that technological advances would ensure that the Shiputzim kids would be spared the same registration trauma.

Fast forward to two weeks ago, when the Studentit called home in the middle of the day.

Registration for the spring semester had just opened, and she was having trouble registering. Could I please help her, she wondered.

Suffice it to say that although the Studentit attends an internationally-acclaimed institution of higher learning, which boasts some of the country’s finest engineering and computing minds, she and I spent the next two hours glued to our respective computer screens, as the supposedly sophisticated online registration system crashed ignobly right before our very eyes.

It seems the French may be on to something with their whole “plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose” thing (i.e. אֵין כָּל חָדָש תַחַת הַשָמֶש – for the Biblically-oriented amongst you).

[raises glass]

Well, here’s hoping that the registration system improves by the time  the Shiputzim grandchildren (BA”H) are ready for it…

Open-mouthed smile


  1. That bit about being at the end of the alphabet resonated with me ... at least my kids don't have a W as the beginning of their last names.

    Technology is good (sort of maybe) ... until it goes down or you lose it completely.

    1. Leora - Reason #3214 for making aliyah: "W" turns into "vav"... :-)

  2. Some things never change. My son has been running from one academic office to another, trying to find out if he has all the requirements for graduation, and no one seems to know for certain. It makes me flashback to the endless bureaucratic run-around that we were subjected to at Brooklyn College way back when.

    1. Raizy - As I recall, trying to get an official answer about the requirements for graduation was even worse than registration! Why am I not surprised to hear that they still haven't figured out a better system for that either?


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