Update the course catalog

Daniel Parker 
Guest Columnist 

Class registration for the fall semester is just around the corner, forcing many students to trudge through VCU’s online course catalog, an outdated website in need of change.

While Cabell Library undergoes renovations, some attention should be given to VCU’s current course catalog in order to make it more convenient for students to use.

It’s unclear if the website is a relic from the early 2000s or a failed attempt at making an effective mobile site. Besides being an eyesore, the course descriptions are vague, making the odyssey of navigating through the mess seem fruitless. Oftentimes, the course descriptions are so unclear, you’re left with little idea of whether the class is the one you need to take or what you’ll be learning about if you do decide to take it.

A few concrete details about what a student will learn about for a literature class are important. Vague descriptions like ‘poetry from the 18th century’ are generally useless when it comes to determining whether a class is the right fit. Students often can’t afford to drop or withdraw from classes, a better description would help them make a more informed decision and graduate on time.

It would be nice to preemptively choose the right class through a competent course catalog. Instead, these minimalist course descriptions leave students with no real grasp on what they are getting into. I’m sure the textbook name is already available for students to look up for at least a tangible reference of what to expect. Why not put this at the end of the course description?

Perhaps VCU should take note of how Northern Virginia Community College does its online class catalog: a simple straight-forward site with no gimmicks. NOVA’s site also doesn’t juggle between e-services and a separate course description website.

Do we really need a separate site for course sign-up and course descriptions? Simply combine the two sites, so we aren’t forced to look up the same class on a completely different website.

Reforming VCU’s course catalog could make all the difference for students. Provide us with a barebones sign-up catalog with more information for students to use when signing up for their classes.

Class catalogs shouldn’t be a cipher for students to crack, but a straightforward, easy-to-use tool that makes their lives easier.

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