Despite the fact that my registration date was four days ago, I still haven’t registered for all my classes. While this is due in part to my own procrastination and hectic schedule, the registration process itself deserves some of the blame.

That’s right, I’m looking at you, Wolverine Access.

If you’re a University student, you probably understand my frustration. Despite its recent update, the Student Business page of Wolverine Access is still an incomprehensible labyrinth of links that are grouped under misleading and vague headings. See if you can answer this question: Is View My Grades listed under Enrollment, Academic Records or Degree Progress/Graduation? Difficulties like this (the answer is Enrollment, for some inexplicable reason) make navigating Wolverine Access a pain that students don’t have time for.

The registration page is also listed under Enrollment, and whether you proceed from that point by picking Add Classes, Swap Classes or Drop Classes, the website is still going to spill you to the same place – after cryptically flashing the word Processing for a few seconds. You should immediately congratulate yourself, but don’t celebrate for more than a couple minutes or the page will time out and automatically kick you back to the Wolverine Access welcome menu.

But if you do make it through to Enrollment, the truly fun part begins. There’s a Class Search option on the Student Business page, but as far as I can tell, it’s just the exact same thing as the search function on the Add Classes page. The search function is so difficult to use that you might as well just open up the LSA Course Guide in a separate tab.

If you’re like me and don’t entirely understand what classes you need to take in order to graduate, you’ll also have to open My Academic Requirements – which is listed under Degree Progress/Graduation but not Academic Records – in yet another tab. This page is actually helpful, which makes it even more frustrating when you take too long and it randomly spills you back to the Wolverine Access welcome menu. And you’ll spend so much time shuffling between My Academic Requirements, the LSA Course Guide, Add Classes and ratemyprofessor.com that getting timed out is a likely possibility.

When you’ve finally backpacked a class, it still isn’t as easy as just clicking it. You have to put a check in the box next to the class’s name (clicking on it will get you a description of the class and nothing more) and click PROCEED TO STEP 2 OF 3. At this stage in the game, you can finally register a class after enduring some more Processing.

If I haven’t convinced you that there’s something horribly wrong with Wolverine Access, just ask around: Most University students hate it.

For the sake of comparisons, I asked a friend at Michigan State how she feels about her college’s registration process. Her response was this: “They assign us a day and time and we just search for classes using WebEnroll. It’s pretty easy.” This sounds exactly like what we do at the University of Michigan, only you would never think of using the word “easy” in the same sentence as Wolverine Access. Asking friends at other colleges about their registration processes elicited similar responses as the Michigan State student.

Despite all these hang-ups, I’ll enroll in classes eventually. But it’s unfortunate that a university offering students so many academic choices can’t come up with a better system for helping students make those decisions.

This problem isn’t unique to the registration process. A story that ran in the Daily on Friday reported that many students have similar frustrations when it comes to their advisers (Students: Advice too scattered, 04/10/2009). The story listed “long wait times for appointments, over-generalized advice and conflicting information between LSA advisers and concentration advisers” as some of the difficulties that students faced.

At the University, reliable guidance and an easy-to-use system are basic requirements that aren’t being met. Between class, homework and extra-curricular activities, students are busy ­— and registering for next semester’s classes always takes place during the most stressful time of the year, when papers are due and final exams are looming. We need more help than we’re currently getting, and this should come in the form of better advising and a more navigable website.

And while I was typing that last paragraph, I was timed out of the Enrollment page. Thanks, Wolverine Access.

Robert Soave is the Daily’s editorial page editor. He can be reached at rsoave@umich.edu.

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