My DARS scars

While Portland State may have many reputable assets and qualities (eco-friendly, diverse education and everything else you’ll see plastered all over the walls or in your student email), the PSU class registration system is not among them.

Simple efforts to check one’s DARS report or add/drop classes can easily become an all-day event. You might think your ungodly tuition would pay for a seamless, user-friendly website on which you could blissfully manage your classes and check the status of your degree, but you would be sorely mistaken.

Let’s start with the DARS: Degree Audit Reporting System. This tool is essentially your only option for keeping up with the progress you’ve made on your chosen degree, aside from meeting with an adviser (who will simply print out your DARS and read it for you). To receive a DARS report on Banweb you must submit an audit, which involves an annoying series of drop-down menus. Hidden ­somewhere in their depths are your major(s) and minor(s), so once you spend the 20 minutes trying to find your major, you submit that and only then begin searching for your minors.

It could take approximately four, five, maybe six audits before you really figure out what you’re doing. Once you hit “Run Analysis” it could take up to five minutes—each—to become available. That’s right, you can forget about a quick DARS check before trying to add that high-demand oceanography class you’ve wanted for three terms. The DARS is the tortoise, and oceanography is the hare.

Once you do receive your DARS you’ll notice that it looks a bit like the unfinished midterm of a computer science major. Seriously. It gets an F in user-compatibility. I don’t know how I can simultaneously fulfill credit requirements in one area while apparently failing to meet those same requirements in a different area.

In fact, the DARS has proven itself so difficult to interpret that PSU has devoted time and money to creating video and PDF tutorials at a 30 minute premium for both watching and reading one of these reports. Forget Netflix, this is prime entertainment if you’ve got the time to spare.
When you’ve received your DARS and watched the video tutorial on how to decipher it, then it’s time to use your Math 60 skills to add up how many credit hours you still need until you get your degree. You might think the DARS would be courteous enough to provide you with this information, but again you would be mistaken.

To add insult to injury, the DARS isn’t even necessarily a guarantee of progress because it is somehow susceptible to error. Furthermore, it doesn’t indicate when your required courses will be offered or even if they will be offered in the near future. To get around this, PSU offers the four-year degree guarantee: the biggest steaming pile of choice manure that I’ve ever heard of.

Hidden away at the southernmost pole of your Banweb account is a link to the page on the four-year degree guarantee (lovingly abbreviated as 4YDG). If you click through to the FAQs you’ll find that you probably don’t fit the requirements because you’re already here. You see, it’s only available to incoming freshmen enrolling in fall term who have never been to college before; sorry if you’re old.

Clicking further into the labyrinthine 4YDG degree-map page will reveal that you must take at least 16 credits for the majority of your school terms. On the off chance that you do qualify for the 4YDG, I hope you don’t have any love interests, need for a job, pressing addictions, illusions of free time, or hobbies of any sort, because you won’t have time for those thanks to the 4YDG!

At the end of the day, I don’t really mind taking two or three days to figure out what I’m supposed to take next term. Nevertheless, it would be nice to register for classes without wanting to rip out your own eyes. You shouldn’t have to spend more time scheduling and researching classes than you do on your actual coursework.

How, with as many computer science majors as we have here, has no one been assigned to update this Viking-era interface? We do have an engineering department, right? Sort it out, PSU.