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“*Urgent* Please Remedy your Account Holds to register for Spring Classes.”
Under previous circumstances, such an email would find students enjoying the last days of their winter break, reminding them of the slowly but surely approaching cold weeks of the spring semester. But we’re only in November, and the trees have barely shed all their leaves.
In May of last year, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences voted to eliminate shopping week in favor of previous-term course registration. With spring 2024 as the pilot semester, many students currently find themselves scrambling to lift registration holds and enroll for classes before the Nov. 15 deadline.
As a Board, we find the new system beneficial, to the extent that it alleviates some of the burdens placed on our course instructors.
Teaching teams — both faculty and graduate students — face irregular demand curves for their classes. Enrollment in previous semesters may not be reflective of capacity needs in coming semesters, and as such, they have to make adjustments once enrollment numbers are confirmed. With only a week or few days to make final sectioning plans, teaching teams may be left scrambling with staffing shortages and capacity constraints to fully accommodate students’ scheduling needs. Graduate student course staff, who have classes of their own, have to adjust their schedules on short notice to accommodate more section times when enrollment exceeds faculty estimates. This inflicts an undue burden on them.
Despite the benefits of early course registration to teaching teams, we take issue with the current implementation.
With a slew of midterms, papers due, problem sets to be submitted and readings to be completed, asking students to start planning for their next semester's classes in November is questionable at best. At this point in time, students are plagued with uncertainty about where they stand on current courses, much less their next semester classes. Many are weighing whether they want to continue pursuing certain disciplines or topics or explore new fields. Their activities and commitments for the next semester remain largely uncertain and very few have a complete sense of what their schedules will look like for the coming semester.
Similarly, professors who are required to post complete syllabi of their courses may still need to incorporate student input to workshop what parts of their courses are working and which ones can be improved. Those who have classes with several guest speakers face logistical challenges in scheduling the speakers for their classes this early.
Given these concerns, we think that a course registration period over winter break — perhaps two weeks before the semester begins — is a more favorable timeline. With the most recent Q report information available, students will have had the opportunity to reflect on their previous semester and have more concrete plans for their coming semester. Teaching teams on the other hand will have incorporated feedback from students and will still have time to hire according to their needs.
In the meantime, the school should maintain a flexible add-drop system to allow students to consider other classes should they change their minds in the spring — preferably one that lasts longer than a week.
Until then, get your flu shot and meet your adviser — registration closes in T-9 days, and you don’t want to enroll in a 9.00 a.m. class you couldn’t care less about.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.
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