Registering for classes in college is a race within itself. Choosing the right classes at the right times, with the most compatible professors is a fun challenge. Not only that, but you have to wake up at 7AM and type in your course numbers quicker than thousands of the other members of your class. Always having the upper hand in any race is a strength that you can use. For instance, having an extra set of tires, conserving your fuel, are all ways that many sim-racing greats have been able to outlast their competitors.

The sim racer's edge in college class registration.

The night before registration, three of my college suitemates were discussing the quickest way possible to enter in their course numbers into the system that allows us to register for classes.  Joe, Anthony, and Pat, the three collaborators, were discussing and installing shortkeys on their laptop. While they were not cocky, they did not want the other six of us in the suite to know what was going on.  I knew exactly what they were up to, since I once used the same program to allow me to fire off messages in NASCAR 2003, such as “Pitting this time by.” With just one click of a button, your message would be sent to all of the drivers in the race. They were using the same program to attempt to register for their five classes for their Spring semester in college.

Joe, who could sense I knew what was going on, told me that I was correct and that they were using shortkeys. I told him I was using a similar program, but I never directly told him that I was going to actually use my steering wheel, and program each button to map to a different course number.  The three of my suitemates along with myself knew that we had a great edge over the competition.

We woke up early right before eleven. I was checking the buttons on my wheel and double checked that each button corresponded to the correct course number.  I waited patiently as the registration page would come to life at exactly 7AM.  I viewed it as if it were a standing start on iRacing. If you went before the green light, you would be penalized. Likewise, if you clicked too early, those valuable seconds could make the difference in getting into the classes you desired. But if you time everything right, and load the page at exactly 7AM, you will be better off and be one of the first to register.

The clock on my laptop turned from 6:59 to 7. I instantly clicked on the link. My roommate was also fairly quick to the punch, but didn’t pay much attention that my wheel was fastened in front of me and my wireless keyboard was moved off to the side.  I pressed each button, and magically each number entered into the system.  I clicked on the submit button, and I got a confirmation message saying all five of my classes were open and that I had successfully registered for them. Joe, Pat and Anthony, across the room, were enraged when they mis-programmed their shortkeys and they were bumped back to the original registration page.  All three of my suitemates manually entered their course numbers frantically and salvaged whatever classes they could get. Just like in racing, they learned that the seconds are valuable and the ones they wasted may come back to haunt them in the future.

Out of the one thousand students who registered, about a few hundred used a program to give themselves a competitive edge in the Spring semester registration process. While some were more successful than others, only one used a steering wheel and a Logitech profiler to do so. That one was me.

Note: When Chris Cunningham is not sim-racing (or programming his steering wheel to get an edge on his roommates) he attends Bryant University in Smithfield, Rhode Island.

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