Last February 25, the Enrollment Council (EC), with the help of the University Student Government (USG), introduced a pre-enlistment process to undergraduate students. The goal of the initiative was to help colleges determine what courses need to be offered in Term 3 of Academic Year (AY) 2018-2019.
The schedule was originally set on March 4 to 8 but was extended by three days, wrapping up on March 13. Overall, the process took eight days, excluding weekends.
To ensure that students comply, the Office of the University Registrar (OUR) stated in a succeeding email that those who fail to pre-enlist “will have the least priority during online enrollment.”
It seemed to have worked; according to Associate Registrar Devine de Asis, 83 percent of the total undergraduate student population partook in the pre-enlistment process. However, concerns still cropped up as submissions of additional class petitions were still made, while reports of students being unable to enlist due to lack of slots were received by the USG.
Behind its implementation
Talks on having the system implemented first began in AY 2017-2018 when the USG proposed having a pre-enlistment process in place. The council rejected it. The reason, de Asis claims, is that it was already tried before.
“Before we had online enrollment—I think that was in 2002—or around the early 2000s…we had this [online] pre-enlistment,” she says. Pre-enlistment at that time was “very chaotic”, she shares, as everything was done manually, which meant students had to line up “even when it wasn’t [their] enrollment period.”
As enrollment shifted to online platforms, the pre-enlistment process was no longer necessary. De Asis explains, “It was stopped because we felt that there [was] no need to pre-enlist [since] our basis is historical.”
Today, she still believes that there is little need to have pre-enlistment since there is already a petition facility available on Animo.sys, which she hopes students would use instead. Based on their office’s observations, the platform is currently underutilized. This past experience with pre-enlistment, coupled with the existence of the online petition facility, were enough to justify rejecting the initial proposal.
Despite that, the USG pushed for it a second time. According to Alicia Alon, co-chairperson of student services; and the Office of the Vice President for Internal Affairs, headed by Adrian Mendoza, presented quantitative data consisting of the number of course adjustments taken. In addition, the usual course projection surveys conducted by the USG had a “decreasing number of respondents.” Faced with these arguments, the EC reconsidered.
A relative success
Though the pre-enlistment had a high turnout, problems were still encountered, de Asis reveals. There were issues related to newly-created courses, which students could not find on the platform because they had yet to have a course profile form, a document filled out by department for creating course codes. To buy time for a workaround, a three-day extension was initiated by the OUR.
Students were also only allowed to add eight courses during pre-enlistment. Engineering College Government Student Services Vice Chairperson Erica Bote believes that this restriction may have affected the effectiveness of the process.
Despite technical setbacks, de Asis considers the project a success, at least based on the number of students who complied. The first five days saw 80 percent of undergraduate students participate. After a brief extension, that figure was bumped to 83 percent. Most of these came from freshmen students, according to de Asis.
As to whether pre-enlistment helped in handling course demand for the upcoming academic term, answers vary. Bote expresses that while the number of petitions submitted have lessened compared to the previous academic term, the decrease was minimal.
On the other hand, Business College Government Student Services Associate Director Jillian Chua shares that she saw tremendous benefit from pre-enlistment. While she did not have the exact figures, she estimates that the number of petitions dropped to three for the entire college; previously, it was three per department.
Can be improved
Adrian Lao (II, BSA) and Stephanie Juat (V, BSME) both agree that pre-enlistment went relatively smoothly for them. However, Juat notes that there could be a better system for adding classes.
“There was so much input that we had to consider,” she elaborates. “It wasn’t as simple as looking up the course code on MLS (My.LaSalle), but we had to type in the course name in separate boxes.”
Moreover, Juat feels that pre-enlistment had no impact on the enrollment process. In fact, according to her, one of her major classes had fewer slots now than before. Lao surmises that the problem may stem from students who enlist in classes they did not choose during pre-enlistment. To remedy this, he suggests that students should only be limited to their pre-enlisted courses come enrollment.
USG Executive Treasurer Adrian Briones agrees with Lao’s sentiment, and adds that despite pre-enlistment, the USG still received complaints from students of being unable to take certain classes or running out of slots. However, he clarifies that while there were still complaints and departmental issues, it was already an improvement from what they experienced last year.
Meanwhile, Alon is hopeful that this will not be the last time pre-enlistment is conducted, saying, “Given the high turnout of students in the middle of the pre-enlistment period, the Enrollment Council will be more inclined to institutionalize this in the coming terms.”
Nevertheless, the process of pre-enlistment is far from final. Though the USG recognizes that the recent pre-enlistment was plagued by various technical problems, Briones assures, “The USG is working on improving the enlistment process for everyone in the University.”
Beyond pre-enlistment, however, are other issues that still need to be addressed: enrollment itself. Last May 2 to 3, students struggled to confirm their classes on Animo.sys after the platform was marred by technical glitches. Reports of system instability spread on social media as early as 8 am on both days. OUR announced the postponement of online enrollment hours later. The Information Technology Services Office stated in a later email that a “server hardware overload” was the culprit.
The LaSallian reached out to Mendoza, who currently holds a seat in the EC, for comment. As of press time, he has yet to respond to the publication’s request.