It’s hardly a new phenomenon that students are dropped from classes that they preregister for, but this semester, student discontent with over-enrollment appears to have reached a new peak. Though highly desirable, maintaining small classes while still letting students take the full range of classes they want is a hard balance to strike, especially in an economy where it remains unfeasible to grow the faculty. However, there are smaller remedies the College can implement to create the most possible winners in a difficult situation.
We value the fact that courses do not fill up on an inherently unfair first-come, first-served basis, but the greatest transparency possible throughout the extended registration process could alleviate some of the confusion and frustration. Students often choose classes without any idea of the likelihood of their gaining entry; thus, adding enrollment statistics – such as how often the class is over-enrolled or how many students are dropped each year on average – to course descriptions would mitigate any ignorance. Some professors already let students know these facts and more; we hope to see that trend extend across the faculty. Even more innovative, what if students could actually see on PeopleSoft the number of those already registered for the courses they’re interested in? Each of these ideas could yield both positive and negative feedback in how students choose courses, and implementation should be closely monitored, but student outcry has made clear that something needs to change.
Improvements can also be made to the class registration calendar. There appears to be no set deadline for when professors need to make their final rosters, so students may be waiting, unsure of their registration status, while other classes fill up. Additionally, the date when registration reopens for the second time is poorly publicized. The process would be smoother if professors had set deadlines for dropping students from over-enrolled classes and if students knew when to go to PeopleSoft to choose new classes.
The situation is certainly not optimal, but there is a silver lining, if only students look. There are ways to work within the process, and there may even be some positive aspects of getting dropped from a class: It is sometimes those random classes you never thought you’d be taking that end up being the most rewarding. Perhaps it is on these occasions that students make the most of an liberal arts education.