Revision as of 21:29, November 27, 2006 by 05jl (talk | contribs) (Using SELFREG)

SELFREG was the text-only Unix program on which registration and pre-registration for classes was conducted at Williams from a date currently unknown until Spring 2004, when course enrollment functions were moved to PeopleSoft.

By then, SELFREG was old, and one of only two text-only programs that Williams students at large were using (the other is the email program PINE, and its popularity has decreased greatly as well). Most importantly from the point of view of the Office for Information Technology and Registrar, there was no longer any tech support for the aged SELFREG, so continuing to use SELFREG was an act of faith in something that no one really knew how to fix anymore. In recent history, SELFREG had never failed, but it was nevertheless decided that the switch to PeopleSoft would be the wisest course.


The DROP/ADD screen on old SELFREG, as viewed on a Mac OS 8.6. This student has encountered the rare problem of having dropped and added so many classes that he has used all 15 of the lines given for input, and has received the error message at the top of the window.

Because no one can use SELFREG anymore, no matter how much we want to take that stroll along the white-on-black memory lane, this section is mainly here for nostalgia. Unfortunately, the Registrar's homepage is updated more diligently than many other departments', and all the documentation for old SELFREG seems to have been removed, though the acronym remains. The fact that the site is the top Google hit for SELFREG gives a clue as to how much later Williams was than peer users in abandoning the old program.

In the old SELFREG, you would have to input your ID number (for American students, your Social Security number) and a password to enter the system. You could enter at any time, but you could only perform class drop and add requests during an "enrollment appointment," which occurred during pre-registration periods and during the first two weeks of each semester, known as the drop/add period.

Once in the system, you were greeted with a screen of about a dozen choices, from which you would select by typing a letter into a space in the upper left of the screen. Nearly all interaction with the program took place in this little box, via single-letter commands that had to be memorized for the registering efficiency that was key if you wanted to bust into that popular, nearly-full course at the first minute of drop/add.

The DROP/ADD screen was where the party was. Here classes could be dropped and added in batch requests, each request on a single line and all executed at once when you pressed return and making you feel like The Man when they all came through. To list a course in your request, you only needed to know the course prefix and course and section number of the class you wanted to take, not some unintuitive "catalog ID" like that used in PeopleSoft. Feedback on your actions was nearly instantaneous, much faster than today's web-mediated PeopleSoft.

But SELFREG was picky in its own way. That one-letter command had to be in just the right place, or it was not going to work. It was possible, in some circumstances, to screw yourself if some of the commands in your batch executed and others did not, such as dropping yourself from a "Permission of Instructor"-flagged course, which could not be easily rejoined, but finding you cannot add the other you wanted.