"Anyone willing to cancel Cytology and Biochemistry class, please contact me. I will pay a 100,000 won reward."
This was one notice posted by a user with the nickname Haneuleunbi on the bulletin board of Ewhaian.com, but it’s a representative of the war for limited class space that goes on during every university registration period in Korea. However, the problem seems to be far from being solved.
"The same problem reoccurs every semester and they just say it’s about the server system leaving out any explanations or counterplans," says Kwon Gu-hae (English Literature, 3). In addition, registration brings on a number of other headaches: deciding which class to choose, competition for class spaces, and problems with scheduling. Jeong Da-woon (Liberal Arts, 1) says, "As a freshman, I was hopelessly unable to decide what courses I should take just by referring to the booklet. And there is a limit to asking questions of the Academic Affairs Office."
To solve these stressful registration problems, students themselves are taking part in making registration less difficult.
Student Government Associations (SGAs) at each university are some groups that are taking action. Every year, candidates for SGAs offer plausible alternatives of the registration system. For instance, 2007 SGA candidates Beginning Ewha proposed a pre-registration system and a credit reservation system for students.
In Seoul Women’s University, there are monitoring students distributed in classes to do an in-depth evaluation on classes. Run by the SGA, evaluations have been published in books each semester since 2003. Written by the monitoring students, the contents include fundamental information about the professor’s teaching method, the number of students taking the class and the content of the course. They convey students’ concrete evaluations on the quality of the classes as well.
Yondo (Yonsei Digital Opinion), run by The Yonsei Chunchu, the weekly newspaper of YonseiUniversity, also recently held an event on their website for students to participate in evaluating the classes they took in the previous semester. Started on January 22 and lasting for about a month, students who participated in the evaluation were given five dotoris (cyber currency on the Cyworld site) for each class evaluation. To perform the evaluations students had to answer 12 questions specifically, including questions like "Is the attendance checked through assigned seats or an electronic device?" and "Please write any questions you remember from the exam." So far, more than 2,000 students from the Seoul and Wonju campuses have participated, and Yondo is planning to hold as second event from March 2 to 8.
Students are taking advantage of off-campus websites as well to reduce their discomfort with registration. There are many cases where a student-run website has become a public space for the rest of the students. For instance, students of Dongguk University visit For Better Education (www.freedgu.com) before they decide what to take in the upcoming semester. The two most popular boards are titled Recommended Professors and Must-avoid Professors. There is no need to become a member in order to use this website.
For Ewha Students, it is either Ewahian (www.ewhaian.com) or Mapping out a Successful Timetable (ewha-love.cyworld.com). On both of these websites, students can read other students’ opinions on courses including evaluations of professors, the difficulty of the class, and the amount of homework. There are especially many questions from freshmen asking for advice on which class to take. ID user rkddkfna posted a notice asking for some advice from her seniors, saying, "Are there any cultural subjects you recommend for a freshman? What about professors?"
Another registration problem students face is scheduling, since it is not always easy to plan a schedule that avoids time conflicts between classes you want. One tool used by many Ewha students to solve this problem is the Timetable Program (www.timetabl.com). This is a program that searches the registration database on the campus website for you and also allows you to organize your search in several convenient ways. For example, you can search either by course name or professor’s name. And you can exclude results that conflict with specific time so you don’t waste time looking at choices that conflict with classes you have already chosen to take. The program also indicates the number of students who have already chosen the same class, so you can guess whether there will be any open spaces.
Park Hyen-joo (English Literature, 3) who visits these websites when making her timetable, says, "Although it does not solve the fundamental problems of the current school registration system, there is no doubt that these websites provide needed information to students and ease their burden."