Stellic Hell

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

I assume that whatever Carnegie Mellon University students used to deal with was pretty atrocious, or else they’d never have pushed Stellic onto us. I’m no stranger to fancy-named class selection websites. My high school used a system called Talos, a system that I can apparently still log into (seems like bad data security). My high school suffered from a glut of intelligent students, so class selections were much higher stakes than at Carnegie Mellon. High school students don’t take majors, so you’d better hope your grades were perfect, or your advisor convincing, because otherwise you were NOT getting into AP stats, or AP chem, or AP U.S. history, or Existentialism, or…

But the actual selection of classes was relatively painless, much better than the unholy SIO x Stellic collab we deal with here. You could look through courses under the heading of “Active Course Search,” which drastically reduced the viewable classes (from 3965 to just 1341). Then, you would give a ranked list of classes for each section. For example, under Mathematics you could rank AP Calc BC first, then AP Calc AB, then regular calc. We all found the system frustrating, but we could see why the system was the way it was — valid reasons for the elements we hated. There is no such reason with Stellic, only madness.

Every time I open Stellic I see another preposterous design decision, a weird glitch, and my mediocre grades. Obviously I can’t change any of these things, but hopefully if I complain enough somebody will.

What is the purpose of the home page? One third of the space is taken up by a banner notifying me that I go to Carnegie Mellon, and that it is Fall 2023. Without scrolling down, the rest of the page is taken up by three large “Quick access” options. These let me: 1) Track my graduation requirements; 2) Plan my pathway; and 3) Schedule my courses for Fall 2023. Beyond this being useless from a planning POV, as we are over 10 weeks into the Fall 2023 semester, this is useless from a usefulness POV, as all course sign-ups must be done in SIO. If I scroll further down the page, I am met with my current schedule, with useful green indicators informing me that I am in fact registered for the classes I have been taking for three months. When I go to Stellic, I almost exclusively want to do one of the first two options, so the naive souls who designed the website must’ve thought those two options should be at the forefront. But Stellic has atrocious loading times for every action that the user does, so this design decision forces every user to load Stellic twice just to get to the page they are looking for, instead of just choosing one of those pages to load as the default home page. I’d recommend the “Track Progress” page. It even has the goofy ID photo that you submitted before freshman year, slightly cropped towards the upper left of the frame, staring at you as you scroll!

You are also shown your “Stellic Engage rating.” I have five lightning bolts, but who knows what this even means? This, alongside the ability to write your special interests, seem to be remnants of an attempt to turn Stellic into some sort of social media platform for interfacing with advisors, maybe designed 12 betas ago.

Stellic also comes prepackaged with an assortment of bizarre glitches, sure to keep you on your toes as class selection grows ever nearer. Why is it that when I try to see the list of classes that would fulfill a requirement, sort that list to fit my needs, click on one of those classes to see how it looks, and then try to click the "back to search results button," the button disappears and I stay on the same class I selected?

Stellic boasts 12097 courses for the enlightened college student. From 00-001 “QSP English 1” to 99-823 “Higher Education Administration Seminar,” from 79-324 “#MeToo: Naming and Resisting Gender Violence” to 48-752 “Zero Energy Housing,” there seem to be nearly infinite options for students with major requirements filled and credits needed. This is sadly just a ruse. Almost all these classes were last offered in Summer 2017, with whoever taught them now long gone. So much filtering has to be done to find usable courses, that you might as well just use the official Carnegie Mellon Schedule of Classes.

I am constantly being told that there is a data sync in progress — the top of my Stellic page currently has three separate little bits of underlined text notifying me of this — yet there is a strong disconnect between the classes I am taking, and the classes Stellic believes I am taking. Why are some requirements addable to the Planning view, but not others? There are so many little things like this that combine to make Stellic feel half-baked, not worthy of a university with a $3.1 billion endowment.

Stellic is much bigger than you think. It recently raised $11 million in venture capital funding, and is used in universities across the nation (and a specific one in Qatar). As an inveterate user of Stellic, planning both my schedule and that of loved ones, I believe in the Stellic mission. There is a very strong foundation here. The way that major requirements are laid out is very intuitive (although the requirements are often out of date, disastrous for anyone that didn’t double check the requirements with another, more reputable source). Heed my advice, and make Stellic better for the students that will come long after I am gone.