Liana Riley is a political science junior, and Mustang News opinion editor. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints and editorial content of Mustang News.
I used to cringe whenever I would receive the email. It was ominous, a sign that despair awaited me, the perils of hell could have been considered a more fitting punishment: It was time to update my PolyPlan. Basically if you are a living, breathing person that goes to Cal Poly, PolyPlanner was the bane of your existence, until a few days ago.
Every quarter I would log onto my portal, dreading the torture I was about to face under the wrath of PolyPlanner’s abhorrent graphics and miserable design. I waited as the loading bar promised a 30-second to 2-minute delay. The possibility of last rotation looming in the back of my mind; it was enough to motivate anyone not to stray from the strict deadlines. But of course, there are always the stragglers. Which brings me to the inherent contradiction in PolyPlanner. When a student misses the PolyPlanner update deadline, their assigned rotation slot plummets to the fiery pit of hell known as last rotation, aka being PolyPlanner non-compliant. For a program that boasts increased student success, it does so in a rather cruel way.
So up until a week ago, not only would you have to log on and use a program which barely functioned, you also stood the potential loss of your entire academic future (at least for one quarter).
Now the website is much more tolerable. The update provided us with a comprehensive list of courses, ordered by their GE category, rather than some arbitrary mess that we were forced to make sense of. Before, the website claimed to provide “valuable course demand data to Cal Poly, and departments use the information to determine their future course offerings.” Yet explain to me why you could plan to take a class three quarters ahead, and have it be unavailable come time for registration. This fatal flaw has been fixed with the new feature of actually telling students which classes are offered during each quarter.
Even after the update there is still the threatening PolyPlanner non-compliant label which afflicts a few unfortunate souls every rotation. I suppose it is inevitable that some students will neglect their PolyPlanning duties each quarter, but another update that the administration should consider is reducing the punishment for being non-compliant. The language used when discussing PolyPlanner itself is problematic: non-compliant comes off a little too strong. It could be beneficial to use a kinder choice of words. Perhaps PolyPlanner-confused, or PolyPlanner-forgetful. Something that better captures the condition of the students who miss the deadline.
Of course increasing the leniency could have obvious consequences. It might defeat PolyPlanner’s efficacy if the administration becomes lax about its terms of completion. So PolyPlanner would shift from a “required planning tool” to an “optional annoyance.”
The vision behind PolyPlanner is an important one. At a school where classes are always impacted, waitlists are inevitable, and graduating on time is never guaranteed, PolyPlanner could be a ray of hope, when integrated and designed properly.
With the newest update, the PolyPlanner layout and design actually look promising. With a few more tweaks we could be looking at a program which students actually want to log on to, and there doesn’t have to be a deadline, because everyone knows how helpful PolyPlanner is to them.
We should all be thankful that PolyPlanner is becoming a useful resource as opposed to the reason you consider dropping out of Cal Poly each quarter.