Alumnus creates 'Course Sniper' to help students register for filled courses
From Jan. 17 to Jan. 24 students can make changes to their academic schedules for the spring semester, otherwise known as the add/drop period. "Course Sniper," an online resource unique to Rutgers—New Brunswick, notifies students when previously filled course sections open up.
Vaibhav Verma, a Rutgers alumnus, created "Course Sniper" while he was studying computer science as an undergraduate. Course Sniper was inspired by a preliminary version of the program, called "Schedule Sniper,” which was created by another Rutgers alumnus, Abe Stanway, according to the Course Sniper website.
Because Schedule Sniper had not been updated since Stanway graduated in 2012, Verma said he decided to take the project into his own hands and create the second version, which he named "Course Sniper."
“I vividly recall being in a dorm room when courses became available for registration, waiting for WebReg to tell me if I got into a class,” Verma said in an email.
Verma began constructing code for Course Sniper in August 2012, and the website made its debut a few weeks later on Facebook. He said he only made one post on Facebook, but word spread throughout campus on its own.
Schedule Sniper is still functioning today, Stanway said, and the logistics of the original program are simple.
To use the site, students enter their phone number and the information for whichever filled course they are interested in. As soon as another student drops the course, Schedule Sniper sends a text to the user, Stanway said.
Stanway said he began charging a service fee of $5 per course after his graduation.
"Course Sniper intakes the same information that the Schedule Sniper does and checks the Rutgers Schedule of Classes to see if your class is open every 15 minutes and emails you if it is open,” according to its FAQ page.
The site also sends subscribers a link to the course registration site, WebReg, so students can quickly register, according to the website.
For many students, Course Sniper has served as a crucial tool in building their desired schedules.
In a Jan. 13 Facebook poll composed of Rutgers—New Brunswick Honors College students, 96.5 percent of the 57 students who have used Course Sniper said the website was beneficial for them.
“In my experience, Course Sniper did exactly what it promised — it tracked the courses you were waiting to open and sent you an email when the course/section opened up,” said Alex Lilly, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student.
Verma said he received numerous “thank you” emails, as well as emails with ideas to improve the application.
“There’s a few people who made feature requests — getting sniper working for summer classes, signing up for multiple sections at the same time and on other campuses,” Verma said.
A 15-minute time interval can be quite substantial in the speedy pace of add/drop period when everyone is constantly reloading the page, Lilly said. In her experience, receiving the notification by email was less convenient than by text message.
Course Sniper’s FAQ page addresses many of these types of detail-oriented concerns. As a free, open source, it utilizes its own resources when refreshing the server and pays the notification charges for all of its users, Verma said.
Verma consistently refined the program while at Rutgers, but said he has since handed over the website to a team that improves and updates the website each semester.
Course Sniper may be unique in its design, but the concept has been implemented into the registration system of several schools, including Pennsylvania State University.
While Verma has no plans on continuing work on Course Sniper, he said the University should incorporate a wait-list into their course registration system.
“I think, in an ideal world, Course Sniper wouldn't exist," he said. "You don't want signing up for classes to be a race among students that is won by better computers, internet connections and software.”
Kelly Kim is a School of Engineering first-year student. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.