Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Thing About CORS, NUS

If there's one thing that could send chills down every student's spine in NUS, it would be the CORS bidding date, or better known as the Centralised Online Undergraduates Registration System. Every semester without fail, NUS students have to camp in front of the computer, staring at the screen like how investors stare at the price of their stocks making sure that we are able to get the modules/subjects that we want to study for that particular semester.

Do not be deceived by its innocent look, this web page hides many evils beneath

In a nutshell, all undergraduates in NUS required to choose and bid for the subjects/modules (let's call them module from now onwards, shan't we, since it's the common name used by all NUS students) they want each semester through this online system called CORS. It's very much like an online auction system, actually, except the items up on offer are the modules that are offered by each faculty from NUS and you are bidding for the opportunity to study in that module because well, there are only so many students that a module can handle and that's why you need to bid for it.

Let's say I'm interested in taking this Japanese Language module offered by the Faculty of Arts and for this semester, they have a hundred vacancy for people wishing to learn basic Japanese language. But when I checked, I see that there's 200 people wanting to take the same module as me so how does the system decide whom to give the module to? That's where CORS come in. You decide how many points you want to throw in for that module out of the total points you have and if you happen to be in the Top 100 bidders, you get the module.

Of course, there's also the timetables, lecturers and pre-requisites that you need to worry about for each module, not to mention the points management and the modules that you need to get in order for you to graduate,  but you get the idea. Each NUS student is bound to undergo this system to secure their modules every semester, without fail. However, there are those with modules that are pre-allocated to them, but those people are mostly from faculties like Science or Engineering.

Some random picture I got from Google about CORS which I decided to put it in so my blog won't look dull

For an Arts student like me, sadly, each start of the semester is surely filled by the constant worry of "will I get the modules or not" and "will I get the same tutorial classes as my friend or not". They say it's part of the training to make Arts student more independent in time management and stuff, but I highly doubt it. I think it's part of NUS plans to turn us all into stock investors or auction house workers or just to torture us Arts students because it's everyone favorite past time anyway.

I still remember how blur I was when I first started using the CORS system during my first semester. By the end of my first CORS experience, I was stuck with an impossible timetable and a module which I have no idea how I got it in the first place called Information Systems something. I got a C+ for it which did not help my results really much and I was left with a paltry 100 points in total (most of my friends had an average of 400+) for my next semester's CORS.

Thankfully, the one thing good about CORS is that with time comes skills. After a few times spent trying to navigate my ways through all the modules info, timetable info and learning how to cheat people into not throwing so much points into the module I want, I must say that I'm not quite comfortable with using the CORS system now. Of course that doesn't mean I don't have to sit in front of the computer anymore like an investor, I still need to, just that now I don't get a churning stomach at the same time. Besides, I would much love going online rather than lining up long lines under the sun as some universities do. Can Facebook while bidding for your modules. Not bad.

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