Think finding classes for next semester is tough now? Imagine what it would be like without the Internet.

Students now have the luxury of being able to register for classes at almost all hours of the day or night, from the convenience of their own rooms, sometimes even in their underwear. But in the days before Wolverine Access, registration involved long lines and lots of paper.

Prior to the introduction of the University’s first computerized scheduling program, the Computer Registration Involving Student Input system in 1974, students registered at Waterman Gym, then located where the Chemistry Building now stands on North University Avenue.

Before each semester, students waited in long lines that stretched from the gym’s doors across the Diag, Assistant Registrar Paul Wright said.

On the Diag, a representative from each department sat at a table piled high with stacks of paper cards representing each seat in a given class.

Cards were distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The cards were then sorted and read by a machine after being stamped to include the students’ personal information.

Departments then generated class rosters from the cards.

Those who got the wrong class would later swap class placements like baseball cards.

A scheduling mistake in 1965 illustrated the potential for error in the registration process.

Two introductory anthropology courses were completely flipped. Students who thought they were registered for Anthropology 101 actually found themselves in Anthropology 131, and those who had tried to take 131 were mistakenly enrolled in 101.

The 1965 mix up was attributed to a mistake by a secretary in the anthropology department, The Michigan Daily reported at the time.

“I myself think the students have lost a lot,” Wright said of the Web-based registration system. “They’ve gained the ease and the mobility, but I think a lot of friendships were made in those long lines. In the frustration of trying to get those classes, you met an awful lot of people.”


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