Undergraduate Dean Defends Preregistration

Letter to the Editors

To the editors:

While the Crimson editorial of Feb. 3 about preregistration notes several of the logistical concerns that many of us have been addressing as this proposal has come together, it errs in its conclusion that everyone stands to lose from this change (Editorial, “The Perils of Preregistration”). In fact, everyone stands to gain.

Early information about course enrollments will enable us to select and train teaching fellows in ways that will have a direct effect on the undergraduate classroom experience. The process of early course selection will encourage better advising sessions by moving them to a time prior to the start of classes, providing opportunities for follow-up conversations. Both students and faculty members will be able to do meaningful work earlier in the semester. Once the term begins, students will still be able to make changes to their course selections, but will do so with the benefit of more information about a course’s content, pace and rigor.

The Crimson does not consider the benefits this system will offer to graduate students and to faculty members, but the advantages to these parts of the community should not be overlooked. Graduate students are eager to be assured of their coming teaching duties in time to prepare; preregistration will allow them to plan their teaching and research time efficiently. Faculty members will likewise benefit from the information that preregistration will provide, by being able to train their teaching fellows and provide stronger educational experiences to their undergraduate students.

The Crimson notes that a Harvard education is perceived as one of the finest in the world. This proposal aims to improve instruction in Harvard College and to ensure that future generations of students will make the most of every week of the semester.

Benedict H. Gross

Feb. 4, 2003

The writer is Leverett Professor of Mathematics and Dean for Undergraduate Education.

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