January 25, 2005

Hefty piles of pink slips find their way to the registrar

It's Friday of third week and students are rushing to get their pink slips in. For most, this day is innocuous—interchangeable with any other Friday—but for those who are indecisive, spontaneous, or just plain lazy, today is the last day to change classes.

Students taking advantage of shopping period flock to the Registrar's once third-week rolls around. Benjamin Pittenger, who works at the Registrars office, is used to the last-minute influx.

"Everyone does it at the last minute," he said, adding that he is unfazed by the mass procrastination. "We've gotten over a couple hundred in the last week."

Pittenger said he thought there were more last-minute class changes this quarter than in previous quarters, though he was not certain.

University Registrar, Thomas Black, agreed with Pittenger's analysis, though he initially attributed the rise in last minute registrations to the increase in student body. "We have more course enrollments this winter than last because we have more College students enrolled this year." Black added that, compared with Autumn Quarter, the office experienced, "approximately 250 more consent registrations presented during the last week of drop/add, receiving about 100 more registrations on the last day."

The three-week shopping period is a relatively new institution for the College. Grace Tsiang, director of the undergraduate department of economics, explained the flurry of activity to be a result of shortening the registration period. "I think that it might, in recent years, have a more frantic feel since it's third, not fifth week."

She defended the policy change, suggesting that five weeks in a ten-week quarter is too long. "A little shopping is OK, but you should really commit to one class, it shouldn't be too difficult," she said.

Some students have mixed feeling about adding or dropping classes at third week. One third-year econ concentrator discussed wanting to change a required course at the end of third week after a particularly bad session where the professor ridiculed the class.

But she ultimately decided not to, saying that "if I had more time I definitely would have shopped around, but it's like two more days; what can I do with that?"

Joining a class 15 days late can be especially daunting, and indeed it seems as if dropping a class during third week is much more common than picking one up.

Many students who drop a class simply do so online, avoiding potentially awkward contact with faculty, but some require additional assistance. A receptionist at the Undergraduate Advisers office said there has been a flood of appointments the first three weeks of the quarter.

First-year in the College Michal Lynn Shumate admitted going to her advisor before dropping the French 203 class she had difficulty transferring into in the first place. "I just wanted to make sure there wouldn't be a problem with requirements," she said.

Different students have different reasons for making registration changes; the requirements become unreasonable, the professor shows an ugly side, the material is boring. When asked why she dropped Social Dance during third-week, Ashley Boven, a second-year political science concentrator, said she wanted to spite her roommates, whom she had forced to sign up with her.

"Plus," she added, "I was fearful of the social situation in which I had to shake my hips."