For the Record: Class registration

Text by Jeanne Leong

Today, students register for classes through the Penn InTouch system, but long before this service was available, they had to show up in a campus office to choose, change, or drop a class.

Class Registration
Photo by University Archives and Records Center

Today, students register for classes through the Penn InTouch system, but long before this service was available, they had to show up in a campus office to choose, change, or drop a class.

Record - story
Photo by University Archives and Records Center

Until 1955, class registration was a several-day process. Students were required to go to one building to fill out preliminary forms. Then, to register for courses, students needed to go to each of the schools that offered the courses they wanted to take. Finally, they had to go across campus to pay the tuition bill. In the fall of 1955, the Registrar’s Office created a new system unifying the different schools into one central registration system.

In this 1965 photo, students are registering for classes in a specially erected registration center in Hutchinson Gym. Long lines extended outside of Hutchinson as thousands of students waited for their turn to register for the semester.

The main registrar’s office was located in Logan Hall, but it was not large enough to accommodate the throng of students during registration.

By the early 1970s, the Office of the Registrar had made huge strides to automate class registration through new technology. Students filled out forms that an optical scanner would read and feed into a computer’s memory bank. The process allowed professors to know who and how many students were signed up for a course. The system also quickly
gave students up-to-date information on what was available when they dropped or added a course.

In 2008, the University implemented the online registration system Penn InTouch, which allowed students to pick courses based on several criteria.

The mobile version of Penn InTouch was launched in 2011.

For more information about this and other historical events at Penn, visit the University Archives online.

Originally published on .