In August 2015, JHU Computer Science major Noah Presler prepared for course registration. The time consuming process of downloading multiple PDF’s, spreadsheets, and course evaluations quarterly was underway. As a side project, Presler had been working with two friends from The University of Toronto, who also shared his frustration, on an online tool to make the process easier and efficient. On October 26, 2015, “Semester.ly” was launched at Hopkins. The all-inclusive online scheduler includes features such as advanced search settings based on major requirements, department, and time. Students can view the university’s official course ratings for the class, as well as their peer’s emoji ratings.
The award-winning software received $10,000 from the 2015-16 cohort of the Ralph O’Connor Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Fund, a Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures program. The grant supports undergraduate entrepreneurship via the support of student-led teams and projects.
A team of three developers has now grown into a dozen with partners at other universities. Presler, along with a JHU cohort are Computer Science students, Max Yeo, Eric Calder, and Neha Onteer used social media as their marketing tool and created a Facebook page. In one day they had 1,500 users. By the end of the week, they had 4,500. This year, over 300,000 schedules have been created and shared on Semester.ly. The developers have integrated social media into their online tool. Students can create, name, and save multiple timetables, and share their schedules via URL or Facebook. They can also view which friends are considering the same classes as them. Some users have over 200 friends connected with their Semester.ly profile in their network. Upon completion of class registration, students can return to Semester.ly and order their textbooks online from the website.
There is no cost to use Semester.ly and it is currently available at the following universities: Johns Hopkins, University of Toronto, University of Maryland, and Queens University. Semester.ly Technologies plans to launch the online scheduler at several other colleges and universities in Canada and abroad. “Our mission is to make college more collaborative and stress-free by creating simple and effective tools which speak the millennial language,” said Presler.