Students report mixed feelings about new PATH registration system


Beginning in March 2024, the College of William and Mary implemented a new system of class registration known as PATH. While meant to ease the registration process, many students are expressing frustration with the new system, particularly the fact that some have been signed up for fewer than 12 credits. 

University Registrar and Associate Provost Alana Davis remarked that PATH would make the course registration process less stressful and improve every student’s registration experience.

“The Office of the University Registrar recognizes that successful course registration is essential to navigating your academic career and that it can sometimes be a stressful process,” Davis wrote in a campus-wide email Wednesday, Feb. 14.

This new system aims to place less emphasis on the “first-come-first-serve” aspects of the previous registration system, in favor of a non-timed, lengthier process, where the system ultimately places students in classes based on registration priorities, social class and priority group. While this cart-building process for the initial schedules was not “first-come-first-serve,” the waitlist and add/drop processes did utilize a queue system in which students were placed in order of submission.

The University Registrar’s office’s PATH web page details the advantages of PATH. 

This innovative tool enables undergraduate students to rank their preferred courses in a flexible, non-timed environment during registration,” the web page reads. “Additionally, it offers valuable insights into students’ prioritized course data, benefiting the whole university by empowering departments with information and facilitating informed scheduling decisions. PATH provides a similar registration experience that students are already familiar with but with the benefit of an updated look and feel, improved search functionality, additional features, and enhanced messaging.”

However, students have reported mixed opinions about the new system.

Hadil Marah ’27 explained her frustrations with PATH. 

“Well, [registration] went well for me,” Marah said. “I got some of the classes I wanted, but I just don’t like PATH, because I don’t like how long it takes for me to know my schedule. And it also makes the whole process so much longer than it has to be. And instead of using add/drop for if I like this class or not, I have to use add/drop for becoming a full-time student here. So that’s incredibly stupid and inconvenient. And I like to get my schedule done the day of and then not think about it for the next month.”

However, Marah did recognize the failures of the last system. 

“But I also talked to a senior and she was like, ‘Well, you’ve never gotten the short end of the stick,’” Marah said.

Here, she referenced previous crashes and failures of the old system during registration. This is part of the problem that PATH was meant to address. With cart-building lasting for a whole week and being untimed, incidents such as the crashes that occurred under the old system hoped to be avoided.

While there are students who are frustrated with the PATH system, there are also those who have seen success during their course registrations. 

Lauren McClure ’27 reported a happy conclusion to her registration process

“I feel a little guilty because PATH actually went really well for me,” McClure said. “I got all the classes I needed, it gave me the 15 credits I wanted, so I had a reasonable experience with it.” 

McClure recalled feeling stressed about using the new system prior to registration, but ultimately appreciating its hands-off approach. 

“I definitely was more stressed about it compared to the old system, but I like that it wasn’t really my job to get the classes that I needed anymore,” McClure said.

Many students have complicated and mixed feelings about this new system. Sarah Bigley ’27 shared her experience, sharing that she got most of the classes she wanted. 

“I didn’t get a lot of the sections I wanted,” Bigley said. “But for the most part it turned out okay. I didn’t get any of the COLL 200s I wanted. But my major requirement classes, I got. So, it was okay.” 

She explained that she prefers the old registration system to PATH. 

“[Banner 9] was more straightforward, and PATH didn’t eliminate any stress. So, might as well go back to the old one,” Bigley added.

Throughout the PATH implementation process, the University Registrar’s office has been working to help students with any issues that may have come up during their course selection. 

Davis spoke about her experience assisting students.

I think we’re pretty aware of the high levels of stress that students have had related to the onset of PATH, the elimination of max capacity overrides, the challenges that they’ve had with the registration system,” Davis said.

Though she acknowledges the frustrations of the student body related to the new system, Davis believes students will ultimately benefit from PATH. 

“Many students will have difficulty seeing that benefit in the short term,” Davis said. “So as we prepare for next semester’s registration, as we prepare for the future, I think it will ultimately be a massive benefit to students. I think that we have learned a lot about how courses are structured, how seat availability works, we can provide data to departments in ways that we couldn’t before.”

For those with lingering questions or concerns about this new registration process, there will be an opportunity to have these addressed. 

I think one thing we would want to say to the student body is we are interested in hearing what students’ experiences are like,” Davis said. We are scheduling an open forum, to be able to listen to students and their feedback. It’ll be attended by members of the university registrar’s team. I will be there. Also, other leadership in our office will be there. We’re the same people who’ve been sitting in Sadler trying to answer questions as soon as we can. We know students have feedback and questions, and we’ve tried to be as available as possible, to be able to receive that.”

This forum will be held in the Sadler Center Tuesday, April 23 from 4:30-6:00 p.m.


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