Thursday, July 2, 2009

Comments on the 2009 USEP Enrolment System

For this assignment, we are to evaluate and comment on the new enrolment system that was implemented and suggest possible revisions to improve it.

The new semester is here and I was quite surprised when I enrolled- there were tarpaulins illustrating the enrolment process for new, old, and transfer students scattered around the university. The tarpaulins contained diagrams of the flow of the enrolment process from start to finish. In their simplest sense, they were flowcharts.

Now, to be honest, I did not really pay attention to the flowchart when I enrolled. I guess it was because I already know what I was supposed to do. At my first glance at the flowchart, I immediately thought that something was rather off. Upon closer inspection, I could say that there were a few things that really do need improvement. Let us look at a picture of the tarpaulin that I took (and sorry if the quality isn’t that good).


The picture above shows the flowchart for the enrolment system. It is made up of three panels. The top one shows the enrolment process for new students and transfer students; the middle panel shows the enrolment process for old students; and the bottom panel shows the enrolment process for shiftees. Personally, I did not need them- but I could probably say that the tarpaulins were more useful for freshmen and transfer students. It was a pretty nice upgrade from the previous enrolment guides that were written on bond papers using permanent markers- the tarpaulins are friendly to the eyes.

Based on experience, these are the steps for enrolment for new students:
1. Pay miscellaneous and other fees
2. Go to UGTO and fill up student records
3. (For scholars only) Apply for a scholarship at the Office Student Services
4. Enroll in ROTC or CWTS
5. Go to your college adviser, submit or present all necessary documents, and secure a Pre-Registration form
6. Fill up the PRF and have your adviser sign it
7. Submit the PRF to the encoder and secure Certificate of Registration
8. (For scholars) Verify student accounts at the bookkeeper. (For non-scholars) Pay tuition fee at the cashier
9. Submit all necessary documents/requirements and complete enrolment by getting stamped “Officially Enrolled” at the registrar
10. (Extra step) Apply for a library card

Based on experience, these are the steps for enrolment for old students:
1. Pay miscellaneous fees and other fees
2. (For scholars only) Validate scholarship at the Office of Student Services
3. Go to your college adviser, submit or present all necessary documents, and secure a Pre-Registration form
4. Fill up the PRF and have your adviser sign it
5. Submit the PRF to the encoder and secure Certificate of Registration
6. (For scholars) Verify student accounts at the bookkeeper. (For non-scholars) Pay tuition fee at the cashier
7. Complete enrolment by getting stamped “Officially Enrolled” at the registrar
8. (Extra step) Validate library card

Before going into the details of the enrolment flowchart, I am going to comment first on the enrolment process as a whole. First of all, the process generally did not change. As usual, the first step is to pay all the miscellaneous fees such as local council fees and the school publication. After that, since I am a scholar, I proceeded to the Office of Student Services to get my scholarship card validated for the new semester (this step is skipped for those who are not scholars). This was where the trouble began. Last semester was a different scenario altogether. The line for scholarship renewal was almost unbearable! I had to stand in line for about an hour before I got my card validated. This semester, the situation was a little better but there is still the inevitable queue to get my scholarship card validated. After validating my scholarship card, I proceeded to my adviser and submitted everything that he needed. After the adviser, I filled up the Pre-Registration form and had it signed by the adviser. Afterwards, I submitted the PRF to the encoder of the Institute of Computing. It did not take long for my Certificate of Registration to get encoded and given to me because there weren’t many people at the encoder. The next step after encoding was to validate my student account. This step is equivalent to paying your tuition fee if you are not a scholar. In this step, the bookkeeper kept the two copies of my COR. The second to the last step in the enrolment process was the most troublesome and has really tried my patience- the registrar. This has got to be the most awful experience in my four years of enrolling to the university. Before, every college was assigned one registrar so it’s a breeze for IC students because there are only a few of us that the registrar needed to serve. However, just this last enrolment, all colleges were combined and EVERYONE had to fall in a seemingly infinite line to get to the registrar. Imagine the whole population of the university falling into a single line! I timed my stay in that line from the moment I fell to the end of the line until I finally got stamped “Officially Enrolled” by the registrar. Guess how long it took? You won’t believe it but it took me one hour and thirty minutes (1 hour and 30 minutes). This is where the enrolment process officially ends but there is an extra step after which is to validate or apply for a library card.

Now, what I could not understand is the awfully long line at the registrar and the unbelievable number of freshmen that still have not finished the enrolment process. If we look at the enrolment process for new and old students, they are basically the same except for the ROTC/CWTS step for the new enrollees. And the only other thing that might be considered different between the two is the number of documents or requirements that the enrollee has to submit. The new student basically goes through the same steps as old students but they submit an awful lot of papers and requirements. The unbelievable number of freshmen enrollees may be one of the contributing factors to the long queues at the registrar. Another may be the fact that the university just adopted a new enrolment system software that was developed by two of IC’s faculties.

So, for my evaluation, I would say that the most recent enrolment period was by far the worst enrolment I had gone through. Yes, it did not take me too long but it was more head-spinning than the previous enrolment periods. Although, I did appreciate the university’s effort to organize the enrolment by putting guards in certain posts to keep the students in place and in line. However, I would like to suggest some improvements to the system (referring to the enrolment process, not the software). First off will be the scholarship renewal. I would like to suggest that additional people be added to help validate scholarships. As of now, there is only one person who does all the validation and that is the OSS clerk. Surely, she alone cannot keep up with all the scholars applying or renewing their scholarship. There should also be a proper separation of those who are applying for a scholarship and those who are only renewing. The locations for the queues should also be planned out so that next time, students who are waiting in a line will not block any roads or paths, which would cause more congestion. Next, and probably the one that needs the most improvement, is the registrar. Instead of combining all the colleges to line up for the register, I would suggest that the university revert to the old system where each college is assigned one registrar. This way, the student will be divided into smaller, more manageable groups. This may not prevent queues from forming all together but I think it would lessen the students’ hassle. Finally, I would like to suggest that all offices where enrollees go to post information about what the student is supposed to do and submit. I often observe this one wherein enrollees enter an office and fall in line without knowing what to do or what are needed. Often, they end up dropping out from the line when it’s finally their turn because they lack some requirements (e.g. photocopy of grades when renewing scholarship). I think that by doing these simple things, we can smoothen the flow of enrolment.

We now move on to the details of the flowchart. I showed earlier a picture of the whole flowchart and judging by its appearance alone, it was not that messy. However, for people who have knowledge about flowcharts or flow diagrams, they would surely notice that some things are not quite right. Let us look closely at the topmost panel, which is for the new and transfer students.


Above is a picture of the enrolment procedure for new students and transfer students. Upon observation, you will notice that the flow of the diagram is clockwise, starting from the UGTO (University Guidance and Testing Office) step, then OSS, ROTC/CWTS, College, student accounts/cashier, until the end at the registrar. This new process was slightly different from my experience but the difference is only during the earlier steps.

Looking first on the positive side, the flowchart looks organized; especially since the activities at each step were listed in the small rectangles and the enrolment procedure for the three types of students were separated into panels. However, when I looked at it closely, I noticed some things that I do not think are right. Since this is supposed to be a flowchart, there are different meanings to every shape and symbol found in it. The most obvious thing is the varying sizes of the arrows. There are thin and thick arrows so in the end, I felt like the lower part of the panel was heavier because of the thick arrow.


I would suggest that the arrows be made uniform in size for better presentation. There is also this one part that has been bothering me, which is shown below:


I think this is the biggest “mistake” in the flow chart. In the picture shown above, there is one long arrow going down pointing to nothing and then there are two smaller arrows to its left pointing to two different objects. Although this may be understandable for most people, I would suggest that this part be revised for the sake of presentation and accuracy. The longer arrow should have been made into a line and then the two smaller arrows are connected to it, possibly like this:


The next one I am about to point out may be overlooked as it is very minor but for the sake of presentation, I will include it here. The thing I am talking about is the size of the people in the diagram. I noticed there were people which were fatter than the others. The difference is quite noticeable but I am not going to post the picture here since I think it is too embarrassing.

There are also parts of the diagram that I do not understand. An example would be the numbers at every step. There are numbers like 1/1, 2/2, and 1/2. I tried to follow them but I cannot figure out what they mean. I thought they were supposed to be unique to each process from what I have learned in SAD 1; like first step is Process 1, second step is Process 2, and so on. Although, my classmate had this interesting idea about them- she wondered if they were supposed to be the relationships in an entity relation diagram; one-to-one, one-to-many, etc. Since I do not understand this part, if we follow the numbering convention in data flow diagrams, then each process or step should have their own, unique process number.

Enough of the appearance now. I actually have something in mind about the flow of the enrolment process itself that was illustrated in the flowchart. The picture is shown below:


The situation shown in the picture above is the same for all the three panels. If I am not mistaken, only scholars are required to verify their student accounts- this has been the case since I was in first year- and the cashier is only intended for students who are not scholars. The idea is pretty simple, really, but the diagram shows otherwise. If you noticed, there is an arrow from the student accounts step pointing down to the cashier. Also note the two separate arrows on the right. If I were to interpret this, it would mean that scholars will have to go to the cashier next after the student accounts section because of the arrow pointing to it. This now becomes incorrect as scholars are not supposed to go to the cashier to pay their tuition fees. To improve this, I suggest that the arrow pointing to the cashier be removed and only one arrow will emanate from the two of them for the next process since they [student accounts for scholars and cashier for non-scholars] happen separately but simultaneously. The purpose of doing so is to avoid confusion especially to the new students and transfer students who are not familiar with the enrolment process of the university.

Well, those are the comments and improvements that I have for the flowchart. As for the other panels, there is not much difference from my experience. Like I mentioned earlier, the difference is only in the earlier parts of the enrolment process. Also, most of what is found in the top panel is also found in the other two panels so my comments are generally the same. I would like to clarify that I am not criticizing the flowchart but I am merely suggesting things for its improvement.

I guess the next part that I should be commenting on is the enrolment system- the program itself. As we probably all know by now, a new enrolment system was implemented during the summer enrolment period. This system was developed by two of IC’s faculties over a period of approximately one semester.

When I enrolled, I encountered a problem with the new system: my section was wrong. Instead of being placed under the section BSIT 4, I ended up being placed in the section BSCS 4. I was worried about it and fortunately, I noticed it printed on my certificate of registration while I was still at the encoder. I immediately brought it up and asked for a reprint but the same thing happened. In the system, my section is indeed BSIT 4. But on the printout, my section is BSCS 4. The encoder called for one of the faculty that developed the system and asked for help. Unfortunately, the problem was not corrected. The encoder had to resort to manually erasing the BSCS 4 on my COR and replacing it with BSIT 4.

What was the point of my story? With this I could say that the system is not one hundred percent error-free. There are still bugs and glitches that need to be fixed. However, I also cannot put the blame entirely on the developers since I think they were rushed into finishing the system for the summer enrolment period. The only thing that I could possibly suggest is they continue to monitor the system and fix errors as soon as possible.

There was also a change in the new enrolment system. In the encoder step during the previous enrolments, students get four copies of their certificate of registration- two if for the bookkeeper/cashier, one for the registrar and one for the student. This time, however, in the new system, I only got two copies of my COR from the encoder. When I got to the bookkeeper, the bookkeeper kept the two copies and I lined up for the registrar. The registrar then printed another two copies from the system, kept one for her records and gave the other one to me. I wondered why it was made this way and I could only think of one answer: the university is cutting down on the cost of carbon paper. Why, you say? Of course, during the previous enrolment periods when the encoder gives the student four copies of the COR, carbon paper is needed to save them from printing four copies. By using carbon paper, the encoder would only need to print two and the other two are imprinted on another paper through the carbon paper. I know that my idea sounds stupid but it’s the only one I can think of. I honestly don’t think that having the encoder and registrar print their own copies had any good effect on the enrolment process. In fact, I think it would now take longer in the registrar since you will have to wait for another printout. In other words, I think the university should have stuck with the carbon paper routine- it saves time and ink.

So finally I come to the end of this assignment. I may sound like I am ranting but I do want to help the university in even the littlest way possible. The area in the enrolment process that has my biggest concern would probably be the organization of the students when lining up for the enrolment process. I think this area needs the most attention to keep the flow of the enrolment process smooth and to avoid conflict with other people. I also appreciated the presence of the guards and some teachers during the enrolment. Even though a new system was implemented, they did their best to keep the students from straying off in the wrong places and staying put in their places. Also, placing tarpaulins in strategic locations around the university was a commendable act. Although there may be small problems with how the shapes and figures were made, I think they were probably helpful for the new and transfer students.

5 comments:

  1. hmmm... we have the same observation about the arrow differs on sizes and the arrows from students accts to cashier.. I wonder why they did not notice that...

    have you notice the actors? some wear caps (highly designated people)while the registrar do not.. i wonder why it is like that..

    Anyways.. the system really needs improvement..

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  2. actually we have noticed the same things.. its great that they have a tarpaulin instead of coupon bonds to aid students in the enrollment process but as I said in my post giving that we have all the materials why not do it correctly right?! the designs should be altered a bit, so that consistency can be reached

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  3. Good day Maam/Sir.
    We are having a problem in our tuition fee for our requested subject for summer in a Government University. We are students from the University of Southeastern Philippines B.O. Obrero, Davao City and we would like to report this matter.
    We are not informed about the payment in our miscellaneous fee. It is more expensive than our tuition fee. Our Library fee for this summer cost 600-700Php which in fact it is the regular cost for a sem. We only have 1month for the summer class. The payment for the library fee is not consistent. When we were first informed by our leader the library fee is only 300Php but a moment later the fee increases into 600-700Php. We already asked the Finance Department about the Miscellaneous Fee but they said "It was imposed already, at this moment". How could that happen? They should have informed us the amount before they increase library fee.
    As far as we know, We are studying in a State University and a Government supported university which means that we have lesser payment than other Universities. But what is happening now was opposite of what we have expected. We all know that studying in college is a right and not a privilege.
    We are expecting for your positive response and proper actions regarding this concern.
    Thank you very much and more power.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @anonymous

    as far as i know, the miscellaneous fee for summer class is the same as the miscellaneous fee for the regular semester classes. the only difference is in the tuition fee.

    as for the library fee, i think something's not right with the php600-700 fee. it doesn't even exceed php300 for regular semester classes so i also wonder how it went up to 600-700.

    i would suggest that you clarify the library fee because it's unreasonably expensive. however, i don't think there's anything you can do about the miscellaneous fee.

    i'm sorry i can't help you any further with this matter because i'm also still a student like you (at least until April 15 :D).

    ReplyDelete
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