Pre-Term Planning Draws Mixed Views

Pre-Term Planning
Helen H. Solomon

Freshmen and sophomores rush to complete pre-term planning before yesterday's midnight deadline.

For the first time this year students in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences were required to fill out a pre-term planning tool—which indicates their tentative and non-binding course preferences for the next semester—but some undergraduates criticized the tool and its value.

Administrators say the new process will help them better predict course enrollment numbers for the upcoming semester, providing the College with guidance in hiring teaching fellows, assigning classrooms, and ordering course materials.

But some undergraduates said they found the online tool difficult to use.

“Looking for courses and navigating all the tabs was pretty confusing. I was too lazy to watch the tutorial video,” said Yue Meng ’14.

Administrators said they had received some criticism about the process and planned to make some changes.

“We are going to evaluate the feedback that we’ve received thus far and will get some groups of students together to work with us to improve it,” Stephanie H. Kenen, associate dean of undergraduate education, wrote in an e-mail statement.

Yesterday was the deadline for freshmen and sophomores to fill out their class preferences. Juniors and seniors have already submitted their tentative schedules.

As of yesterday the College had received more than 6,000 pre-term planning submissions.

The College introduced the plan in September as a non-binding means for students to indicate which courses they plan to take in the spring.

But the new policy caught some students off guard.

Some criticized what they perceived to be the counter-intuitive layout of the tool.

“It took me 10 minutes, and I watched the tutorial; however, I couldn’t help thinking that if pre-term planning requires a tutorial, then it should be simplified,” said Alex B. Stein ’14.

Others found the process relatively painless, thanks to the help of the tutorial videos on the Registar’s website.

“It was really easy and took a lot less time than other people made it out to be. The tutorial was really useful, and the whole process only took about three minutes: I did it on the way to dinner,” said Sandy U. Uwimana ’14.

Beyond the technical aspects of pre-term planning, students offered opinions as to whether they thought the new system would benefit them.

“I guess it forces you to think ahead, but I think it’s kind of useless. For instance, it’s not really that useful if you’re in the sciences. I know what I’m taking all year,” said David Shuster ’13.

While sympathetic to the mission of the Registrar’s Office, Peter D. McCarthy ’12  said, “The course selection tool made it really difficult to rearrange courses from your plan of study, and I think that because of that, the results that the office collects won’t necessarily reflect what people plan on taking.”

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