SETTING: It’s a cold December morning at the local market. The newest course catalog has just been released. Three OLLI members, Alice, Beth and Chuck, run into each other and begin discussing the registration process with great enthusiasm…
Alice: It’s finally time to register for classes!
Beth: Yes, I’m excited for the new Shakespeare class.
Chuck: I can’t wait to start knitting.
Alice: Make sure you mark your priorities on the form.
Beth: What’s a priority?
Chuck: I’m pretty sure the doctor told me I was growing one in my left ear.
Alice: No, Chuck, by clearly indicating your course priorities on the registration form or through the online portal, you are telling the OLLI staff which classes are most important to you.
Beth: Why do they care about that?
Chuck: Maybe they have nothing better to do.
Alice: [sighs] Of course they do, Chuck.
Beth: So why do I need to choose between my classes?
Alice: This is how we manage our classroom space at OLLI. Rather than relying upon the conventional “first-come first-served” system, our automated registration system takes into account which class is your first priority, your second priority, etc. In the first round of scheduling, everyone is assigned to their first priority class.
Beth: That’s great!
Chuck: How many first priorities can I have?
Alice: [rolls eyes] One, Chuck. Only one.
Beth: There has to be a catch! What if a class has only fifteen seats available and sixteen people choose that class as their first priority?
Alice: That’s when we use a computerized lottery. The available seats are assigned randomly to the students in the pool of registrants.
Beth: But shouldn’t the person who registered earliest get the seat?
Alice: Although some of us are used to that way of thinking, our OLLI values promote a community that is willing to share the learning experience among all members and not compete for seats in the classroom.
Chuck: Compete…lottery…pool…is there a new gambling class that I missed?
Alice: [ignoring Chuck] As a matter of fact, this automated system was created specifically for our Osher Institutes in Delaware.
Beth: What if I am an eternally unlucky person and never get into the class that I want?
Alice: We do have a special provision for members who were waitlisted for a course in the previous semester and who sign up for that same course as their first priority. Just make a note on your registration form and you will be given extra priority over the rest of the first priority registrants for that course.
Beth: Well, that makes sense.
Alice: Once all of the first priority classes are processed, the registration system moves on to everyone’s second priority class, using the remaining seats in each section and resolving space conflicts by lottery. This continues until every priority registration has been processed.
Chuck: That’s a lot of information. Can’t they just tell me what classes to show up for and when?
Alice: Of course, when you submit your registration during the priority period, you will receive a preliminary confirmation very soon after your form is received. You will then be notified within a week after the priority deadline of your exact course assignments, including any for which you ended up on the waitlist.
Beth: Waitlist? This is starting to sound like college again!
Alice: Yes, well much like a college and any other school, there are limitations to the number of seats we can have in each classroom, and sometimes at the request of the instructor. Some instructors rely on a more intimate discussion environment to help provide an enriching experience to their students.
Beth: That’s my favorite part about some of the classes here.
Chuck: Mine too. Well, it’s a close second to the delicious cookies.
Beth: Alice, thank you for explaining this to us. I think I really understand much better how our registration system works, and most importantly, why I should take the time to prioritize my course selections.
Alice: You’re quite welcome. I look forward to seeing you at the Open House!