For Indecisive Students, Add/Drop Seen as an Extended Shopping Period

Deadlines for Dropping Classes at Harvard and Peer Institutions
Jake Freyer

Undergraduates are given a week to shop courses at the beginning of each semester, but for many of the thousands who took advantage of the add/drop deadline on Feb. 24, one week is not enough time to gauge whether or not they will succeed in the course.

Instead, these students and resident deans said that the four-week period before “fifth Monday” acts as an extension of shopping week, rendering soft the study card deadline.

“One week is a very short time to fully understand what is going on in a class,” said Alind Z. Amedi ’16, who noted that he has dropped one course after the study card deadline each semester once he realized they did not meet his expectations. “During [shopping week], the first few lectures are not reflective of what the class will be like later.”

Amedi is by no means alone in shuffling his schedule in the middle of the semester.

By Feb. 24, the deadline to add or drop a course, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar’s Office had processed 1,745 undergraduate add forms and 2,091 undergraduate drop forms, according to FAS Registrar Michael P. Burke. Though students can still withdraw from courses until March 10, the Feb. 24 deadline was the last day on which the action would not appear on their transcripts.

According to Adams House Resident Dean Sharon L. Howell, many students commit to more courses than they intend to take in order to avoid paying the $40 fee for a late study card.

“I know that some students, when they file their study card, are not fully sure yet about their classes,” Howell said. “Rather than delay their study card, they add five courses.”