Sophomore Benjamin Khakshoor was trying to register for a full computer science course, when he created a code to notify him when seats in the class opened up.
Khakshoor, a computer science major, wrote this code to notify him of a seat opening in a Spring 2015 computer science class, CMSC131, so he could register for the course as soon as a spot was available. Often, if a spot opens up in a class, whoever registers first get the seat rather than who is first on the waitlist. Through word of mouth, more students began asking him to write codes to help them register for full or popular classes.
"I couldn't get into the intro class of my own major," Khakshoor said.
Khakshoor worked with junior Aaron Bloch, an information systems major, to turn this college registration hack into a service for all students. In November 2015, the two created a Facebook page to accept requests from interested students. These students provided their name, contact information and the class and section they wanted to enroll in, and Bloch and Khakshoor set up a notification for them, free of charge.
After a few months of providing the service through Facebook, they created a web application called CourseHunter, which was released in the beginning of January 2016. Students can subscribe to the website and choose which classes they'd like to receive notifications for and whether they'd like to receive them via email or text.
Sophomore finance major Noah Schiff used the service when registering for his Fall 2015 classes. He was able to secure a spot in BSCI189I: Beyond Race: Human Biological Diversity, which had a waitlist of more than 100 students, he said.
Even though some classes release more spots for students throughout the registration period, Schiff said "it was nearly impossible to get in [to this class]," but this service helped receive a spot.
"It was nearly impossible to get in, honestly," Schiff said, but he did and continues to use the service.
As of April 20, this app has helped 627 university students to get notifications when spots for a course open up. Bloch and Khakshoor invested their own money into creating this service and paid themselves back using part of the money they won from the university's Hillel Shark Tank competition, a contest where students can pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges, hosted on March 2.
The reason I jumped on board was for the learning experience, I wanted to do web design," Bloch said. "[But] there's definitely opportunity for equity in the future."
CourseHunter also received an incubator grant which gave the team an additional $3500 to use moving forward, Bloch said.
CourseHunter expanded to George Washington University this spring, and its services available for Fall 2016 registration, Bloch said.
Bloch and Khakshoor hope to be in 22 schools by the end of the summer, Bloch said.
The app is currently collaborating with City University New York schools to launch sometime over this summer. In deciding where to expand, the team looks into whether or not the class information is public information and the campus has need.
"CourseHunter is going to work even better [at George Washington University] because they have no waitlist [for some classes], so it's really like a crapshoot," Bloch said.