University of Michigan
News for Faculty and Staff

September 25, 2017

Trial by registration

September 11, 2017

Trial by registration

Old school: U-M in History

Topic: History

Students enter the University of Michigan's Waterman Gym to register for classes in September 1951. (Photo courtesy of Bentley Historical Library)

Although registering for classes now can be accomplished with the click of a button, that wasn't always the case at the University of Michigan. Through the 20th century, the registration process was an in-person affair, with students lining up at Waterman Gymnasium and finalizing their course selections. For decades, students used multi-coupon "railroad tickets," which they had to fill out by hand and took up to 40 minutes to complete. The university then moved onto IBM cards, a change that officials said at the time would save printing costs and reduce the work of registration personnel. IBM computers streamlined the process. The 1970s witnessed the advent of Computer Registration Involving Student Participation, which used a network of terminals and a central database system. In the early 1990s, phone touch-tone registration was the mode of the day and in 1999, U-M launched Wolverine Access, a web-based registration system.

— Compiled from The Michigan Alumnus and LSA Magazine's "Registration Incarnations" by Erin Rosenberg

Tags: Old School

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