Campus prepares for new PATH registration system replacing Banner 9


Wednesday, Feb. 14, College of William and Mary Associate Provost and University Registrar Alana Davis sent out a campus-wide email announcing a new registration system, CourseLeaf’s PATH, which replaced the previous Banner 9 software.

More than a week later, Tuesday, Feb. 27, Davis sent out another email with more comprehensive information on the new system.

“Beginning in spring 2024, all students will register for fall 2024 courses via PATH,” Davis wrote. “This registration system is not part of Banner and allows you to build a registration cart and prioritize your course selections outside of a timed environment. An introduction to the PATH registration system and resources about building a registration cart can be found on the University Registrar PATH webpage. PATH is available to use now to search for courses. Summer and fall classes are now viewable.”

With the new system, PATH will allow students to build their registration cart ahead of time, without having to be present for a designated time slot. According to the College’s guide to PATH, the system will retain existing registration priorities, including social classes.

Davis said in an interview with The Flat Hat that the College’s switch to PATH was, in part, caused by concerns of Banner 9’s capabilities and student wellness. 

When a major system crash during course registration temporarily impeded course registration, Davis said the College divided students into “Green” and “Gold” groups with designated 15-minute registration windows.

The College intended for the halving system to ease the strain course registration imposed on the Banner system. However, the College also recognized that tight registration windows could be potentially anxiety-inducing for students.  

“It is very stressful. You have 15 minutes and it feels like basically 15 seconds to go through and get the courses that you want. We hear the phrase ‘Hunger Games’ on a regular basis. And that’s not an environment that we want for students. That’s not student-friendly. That’s not conducive to a healthy learning environment. And so we want that process to be a little more comfortable, a little less stressful for students,” Davis said.

Davis hopes that PATH will achieve that ease by replacing Banner’s tight registration windows with a week-long cart building period, during which students may add or remove classes from their cart at any point. 

The PATH system brings additional changes to the registration process, including an algorithmic component. In addition to drafting their ideal schedule, students are able to assign up to two alternatives for each of their first-choice classes. 

With Banner 9, students had to receive instructor permission prior to enrolling into select courses. With PATH, students who learn they need instructor permission during its registration window will have that window to obtain it.

Davis highlighted that PATH does not impede students’ autonomy and ownership of their schedules. 

“You have control over what you want it to prioritize for you. There is an automated component to it in the sense that it will run in a formation. So say you’re the first person to be processed. It’ll do the best possible outcome for number one, number two, number three, number four, number five, number six, number seven, you know, kind of all the way through. And then it goes backwards the other direction,” Davis said.

Davis also elaborated on the process.

“So, [a] person who’s number one isn’t number one every time. You know, it does the snake formation. And at every instance, it’s running through the choices that you’ve made and the priorities and trying to create the best possible options for you. So you still have control over what you want your options to be,” she said. 

Students will also be able to modify their schedules directly during a secondary add/drop period. Independent of add/drop, PATH will run a waitlist for certain courses. The waitlist feature will replace override requests, which students used to send to professors whose classes had reached capacity. 

PATH will also offer new course search features. Students can now filter courses by excluding certain blocks of time (“Excluded Time/Day”) or cost of additional course materials (“No-or Low-Cost” courses whose materials cost under forty dollars). 

According to Davis, PATH will give the College far more data on students’ course preferences. While Banner did not document unsuccessful registration attempts, PATH’s priority and alternative carts will show the College which courses students truly want to take.   

“It doesn’t mean we’re going to see that everybody put a certain course down as the first choice, and then we’re going to be able to add 17 sections of it and guarantee that everybody gets that class as a first choice. What it does, though, is allow us to make informed decisions about courses where there might need to be shifts, where a few seats might make a real difference somewhere,” Davis said. 

Students reacted to the announcement of the PATH software.

“I’m an arts and science major, so I really hated Banner and how hard it was to get on a waitlist,” Lilly Shee ’26 said. “I’m glad about that aspect of PATH. But, I think it’s easier to use Banner. I’m very interested [in] what will happen, but also generally have no clue what’s going on.”

Conner Small ’25 discussed the pros and cons of Banner 9.

“Like the cons are: it’s very intense the morning of and very stressful. Pros: I would say if you’re fast enough, you get the classes you want,” Small said.

Small reflected on his previous experiences with Banner.

“I’ve tried to order the ones I should sign up for first to get the classes that are most important to me,” Small said. This allowed him to generally get the classes he wanted in prior semesters. 

He also listed his concerns on the new PATH system.

“I’ve heard [with] this new system, somebody else is going to choose for you,” Small said. “And that makes me worried that because I only need so many classes that I’m not going to get ones that I need, and it would just waste the credits.”

Davis said that ideally students should still be able to meet their requirements, such as the College curriculum, otherwise known as COLL. The PATH system, she said, does not affect course availability. 

“Part of that will come down to how students prioritize things in their carts. If you have something that you need, it should be prioritized high. And you ensure that this is a thing that I’m going to need here. Course availability in and of itself isn’t going to change,” Davis said.

The College is working to ease the transition from Banner 9 to PATH through email communications and informational tutorials directed towards students and advisors. The Office of the University Registrar will host Zoom sessions, table in the Sadler Center and Starbucks, and remain accessible during registration week. Students will be able to ask questions and view demos on using the PATH system. 

The College added an implementation timeline for PATH on its website. The College formally launched the system  Wednesday, Feb. 14. All undergraduates will be able to use PATH to register for fall 2024 courses  Wednesday, March 27.


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