College has started. The driveways are full of SUVs, freshmen, parents, moving-in-crews and a few upperclassmen with knowing looks. Someone has to keep track of the new students, and that someone is us, Freshmen’s Alley, the campus society dedicated to ensuring freshmen have a smooth first year.
With more than 1,500 freshmen pouring in, using a rolodex would have driven us royally crazy. Which is why we decided to use a database.
The first question that struck us was, what does our database have to do?
For that, we referred to this video:
The next question was: where do we find an affordable database developer?
We didn’t have to look very far. We trudged to the CompSci Department, met Dr. Rowland, its head, and went on our knees asking for help. He persuaded Jack Karevski, a graduate student, to build our database for compsci credit. He decided to keep the development simple by using the Microsoft Access platform.
Jack went about his development task like a honey badger eating a cobra. After smacking our heads for a brain dump, he came back the next day with a wireframe for our concurrence. It contained pretty much everything we needed: data entry forms, configurable as well as preformatted reports and an interface to the College’s central computing system. Two days later and it was online. YESSS!
After about three hours of training by Jack (yes, we ARE smart), we were ready to start entering data. We made copies of all the registration forms and had our volunteers key in the information. By the end of the orientation period, we were in sync with new arrivals. The database contained the name, address, photograph, arrival date, department, dorm name, meal plan, room number, dean’s name, emergency contact details, blood group and health insurance status of each student. We had the database NAILED!
In the next post we will describe how the database made life easier for the freshmen and the college. Stay tuned!