Improve SOLAR or scrap it
Callum De Maria / The Silhouette
The night of August 8,2012 was the eve to my twentieth birthday. Some may ask how much fun I had that night, or what type of crazy fun-filled events went down before I turned 20 and left my teen years permanently behind. I simply reply to them with, “my night was spent at home, anxiously awaiting the arrival of midnight.” After saying this, people often looked puzzled but understood, thinking that I was waiting until my actual birthday arrived to go out and celebrate. These people have never heard of SOLAR before, and why it is a painful system that makes life extremely difficult and stressful for McMaster students on our time off in the summer.
When I was asked why I was staying in the night, I told them I had to choose my courses for school. The first reaction I got was laughter, followed by a series of questions: “Why does it start at midnight?”, “Doesn’t that only take a few minutes?”, etc. I did not have an answer for why it starts at midnight, which can be a very inconvenient time for many students, and whether it only taking a few minutes, us McMaster students can only hope and pray. First of all, SOLAR only lets a limited amount of users on at each time, with a time limit of 45 minutes, which means you need to be prepared that night for an excruciating grind with the mouse. If you do not get on at midnight, you must be prepared to sit in front of your computer and click, hoping that at some point you make it into SOLAR - which could take hours.
Course selection is an extremely important aspect of university. One of the most crucial points in the university year is making sure on this selected night in August, you get the courses you really want to take for the upcoming year. This is absolutely vital because you do not want to be paying money for a class you will not enjoy or take seriously.
Next, after the problem has been fully recognized, they would need to alter the system to make improvements. A first simple change would be restructuring when course selection opens because as previously stated, midnight may not be the most convenient time for a student to go on to the computer and select their courses. However that is a small matter in a huge problem. SOLAR and McMaster need to be able to prioritize students into courses they need. All that would have to be done is that instead of one day, they expand it into four days so that it is first-come, first-serve based solely on your year and program. This would also assist a lot more students into getting courses they not only need, but courses they are generally interested in, as most popular courses are filled by 1 a.m. before 90 per cent of the faculty has had a chance to sign on.
As much as I have bashed SOLAR and the system throughout this article, it is not exactly easy to register 25,000+ students into courses every year, and SOLAR does make it a lot easier for the school to do this in a timely matter with little to no faults, which can be extremely undervalued.
However, SOLAR is making it easier on the school and not the students. This is like owning a restaurant for example, and being the head chef. Kraft Dinner only takes a few minutes to make and it is easy, but will you keep your customers happy by serving them Mac`N`Cheese instead of the famous steak they stepped in the restaurant for? We students pay a tuition fee so that we can improve our education and help develop a future.
In order to do so, we must be confident in the courses we enroll in, and improving SOLAR will help provide this luxury for McMaster students.