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Study Cards Will Go Online Next Fall

By Melissa C. Rodman, Crimson Staff Writer

Starting next semester, students will not need to print out their course study cards or solicit written signatures from their advisers to complete course registration, as they will Friday, because the process will take place entirely online.

By the summer, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar’s Office will implement a new student information system that will make the process for completing study cards, obtaining required signatures from advisers and professors, and submitting add/drop course forms electronic.

“It’s really kind of a minor logistical difference,” FAS Registrar Michael P. Burke said. “The difference is you won’t have to print out the paper, and the hope is that students and the advisers will have a better user experience.”

For years both faculty members and students have requested a paper-free system for course enrollment, and the project was formally launched a year and a half ago, according to Burke and Jason Shaffner, managing director for student information systems. Faculty members wanted to make sure that the electronic process would not allow students to enroll in courses unsuited to their academic backgrounds or needs, Burke said.

“The reason why it’s been on paper is to ensure that there’s a good advising conversation,” Burke said. “Electronically we can still ensure that happens” because faculty members can still approve which students are admitted to their courses under the new system, he said.

A software platform called Campus Solutions will organize the electronic course enrollment information. According to Burke, Campus Solutions is used at about 1,200 higher education institutions but has been tweaked specifically for use at Harvard.

“We have been developing a new interface that’s been designed with student, faculty, and adviser input,” he said. “It’s our own design and it’s based on Harvard’s needs.”

The course selection and Pre-Term Planning tools, among other information currently housed on the website, must be adapted to fit the Campus Solutions system, according to Shaffner.

“The goal is really for everything that’s on my.harvard today to find a home on the new portal,” Shaffer said.

In the next three weeks, students will be able to try out the site by signing up to participate in focus groups. Shaffner and his team will also share informational and promotional material about the site.

According to Shaffner, in addition to its use at FAS, the Campus Solutions site will launch this summer at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Divinity School. In 2016, the Kennedy School of Government, the Graduate School of Design, Harvard Medical School, the Dental School, and the School of Public Health also will use the site.

—Staff writer Melissa C. Rodman can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @melissa_rodman.

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