When Zach Koerbel ’16 and Jeremy Cohen ’16 signed up for COS 217: Introduction to Programming Systems this December, they had little hope of enrolling in their preferred preceptor’s section. According to Cohen, it is nearly impossible for freshmen to enroll in the two precepts taught by lead preceptor Robert Dondero because they usually fill to capacity during junior course registration. Determined, nonetheless, to defy the odds, the two students wrote a script allowing them to monitor the course’s enrollment activity indefinitely and eventually snag two seats in the class.
Since December, Koerbel and Cohen’s program has developed into a web application called Princeton Pounce. The site, formally launched on Sunday, allows students to sign up for email and text notifications when a spot in their desired course opens up.
On Thursday night, the app officially became a TigerApp. Cohen, who is a member of the USG IT committee, had been working with USG president Shawon Jackson ’15 and other committee members to launch the site as an official TigerApp.
As a TigerApp, the website is protected under the University's Central Authentication Service and will require a student’s netID for access. Before, the site was accessible to the general public.
Princeton Pounce is the first site that allows the entire student body to check the enrollment status of any course offering on the Registrar’s website. While other students have in the past written scripts to notify them of a specific course’s availability, Koerbel and Cohen were the first to implement the idea University-wide for all courses.
As of Thursday, Princeton Pounce had received approximately 750 subscriptions, and just over 450 notifications were sent out to subscribers informing them of enrollment openings.
The top three most subscribed courses were SOC 204: Social Networks, COS 126: General Computer Science and COS 436: Human-Computer Interface Technology, with 94, 80 and 54 subscriptions, respectively, according to Cohen.
“I think it’s a really brilliant idea,” said Linda Zhong ’15, who was able to grab the 100th spot in her MOL 205: Genes, Health and Society lecture after multiple failed attempts during official registration. Zhong found out about the service through an email from the Butler College listserv. According to Cohen, the system will become especially helpful in the future when students are alerted of vacancies that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.
Although neither Koerbel nor Cohen has spoken with anyone in the Registrar’s office, the two are confident that the site will cause limited interference on the Registrar’s servers.
The Office of the Registrar did not respond to requests for comment.
Other students have also created similar programs meant to enroll them in precepts or laboratories. Curtis Belmonte ’16, and Lucas Mayer ’16 wrote a script similar to Koerbel and Cohen’s because there was a particular course they were looking to enroll in. However, the idea to publish the script did not occur to them until after Princeton Pounce had already been creative.
They added that they are doubtful that such a site would be useful, since it would provide the same advantage to all interested students.
“It kind of defeats the purpose if you tell other people because then you risk losing your spot,” Cohen said. However, the creators of Princeton Pounce decided the site was worth sharing despite the risks.
“We figured that there are enough classes out there that we’ll never take so we might as well help some people out,” Koerbel said.
“I really hope that it doesn’t catch on,” Zhong said. “If everyone is able to use it then it won’t be that effective.”
Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article misstated when Princeton Pounce became a Tiger App. It officially became part of the site on the night of Thursday, Feb. 7. Due to a reporting error, an earlier version of this article misstated the reason Belmonte and Mayer did not publicize their script. They did not publicize it because the idea to do so did not occur to them. The ‘Prince’ regrets the errors.