The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday September 25th

Column: ConnectCarolina is cool and retro

DTH Photo Illustration. A student logs into their ConnectCarolina portal.
Buy Photos DTH Photo Illustration. A student logs into their ConnectCarolina portal.

Editor's note: This article is satire.

We’ve all seen this student walking around campus — and if we haven’t, we wish we had. Born in 2002, but walking around campus wearing oversized, straight-legged jeans and a turtleneck with a crewneck sweatshirt layered on top. She exudes the ‘80s. Or is it the ‘90s? Either way, her style can only be defined as retro. 

We see this happen about every 30 years. Fashion trends recycle. The old becomes the new becomes the old. And then becomes the new one more time for good luck. 

But this persistent pattern is starting to appear somewhere other than the Urban Outfitters finest fall selection; a field that has only ever been about forward progress and advancements from the best and the brightest: computer science. 

I know what you’re thinking. With such a future-focused field, since when did it become trendy to look back to painfully slow website interfaces, oversimplified code or inaccessible menu options for inspiration? Is the internet becoming the newest Depop for vintage websites? Where can I find one of these in real-time?

Well, look no further. A prime example of this website is closer than you’d think — in fact, you’ve spent hours, if not days on this page. Now a semi-finalist for the National Fashionably Outdated Website Contest, the winner will boil down to one of two talented competitors: MySpace and our very own ConnectCarolina.

ConnectCarolina can be up to date in some regards (it’s not impossible to find your holds, and the shopping cart tool can actually be pretty useful). Yet, it still proves time and time again how quickly our patience can wear thin with its impossible navigation menu and repetitive insistence that you need to log in again (yes, we know it’s only been 30 minutes).

Aesthetically, the fonts and color choices have been said to clash worse than peanut butter on pickles, and the student requirements dashboard icon looks like it was designed in 2011, exported as the lowest quality PNG possible, then screenshotted off Instagram for good measure.

Do we have countless comp sci majors that could make a better system than ConnectCarolina in five minutes? Sure. 

But does that maintain the same nostalgic Comic Sans website from 2006? No, it doesn’t. 

One defining feature that sets ConnectCarolina apart from its competitors is its labyrinth of a registration system. Registration has gotten the best of countless students, from causing nervous breakdowns to general befuddlement.

“Last semester, I forgot we were supposed to use the plan tab and was foolish enough to try to use the enroll tab once my window opened,” one student said. “I know, it was completely illogical to assume that a button that says ‘enroll’ meant you can actually ENROLL in the specific classes I need — that would be way too complicated. I don’t know what I was thinking.”

It’s rumored, alongside other changes the UNC Registrar has made to the registration process this semester, they’re also considering a switch to mail-in course ballots rather than electronic registration. 

“What’s the only thing more reminiscent than a slow, panic-inducing online registration process?” one registrar official asked. “A slow, panic-inducing registration via paper! We think using paper for class requests will give students the registration experience that their parents had, mitigating generational divides between millennial parents and their tech-savvy kids.”

So for now on, if you’re feeling nostalgic for the past, don’t open your closet — open your computer. ConnectCarolina will be waiting for you with its dated icons and buffering student center. It will remain hoping you will be the next student who fails to find the Tar Heel Tracker, yearning for the moment that you give up on Chrome and head to Firefox in the hopes something, anything, will make this website work. 

Spoiler: it won’t work. You’ll end up restarting your computer and forgetting about the 20-30 recommended classes you need to add to your shopping cart, only to revisit it the night before your enrollment window, with a new onslaught of endearing errors that you can only count on ConnectCarolina to provide. 

And you know what? That’s so ‘90s.


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