Adding frustration, dropping morale
Return the drop/add period to two weeks
Published: Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 29, 2013 21:01
Creating a schedule that perfectly incorporates the courses you need, allows you to carry a job if you need it and doesn’t destroy your sleep schedule is a skill all students strive for but few possess. After the trials and tribulations of class registration, the first week of classes come, and it is time to decide what stays and what goes.
But the bold red font on the Office of the Registrar’s website displayed a warning that all UB students have come to dread: “the drop/add period has been shortened.”
This semester, students had five days (until Jan. 19) to drop courses and seven days (until Jan. 22) to add courses. One year ago in spring 2012, students had seven days to drop and nine days to add. And a few years back, students had two weeks.
The drop/add period needs to be extended back to two weeks.
If nothing else is present to stress you out during the first few days of classes, the drop/add deadline’s looming presence is enough to induce panic. SUNY policy states students who drop classes after the deadline passes (in the second week) must pay 20 percent of the tuition and fees they would have paid if they didn’t drop the course. How daunting this becomes to students struggling to pay their way through school and finish on time.
But whether money is an issue or not, how good of a judgment can you make on a class during the first week of school, which is commonly referred to around campuses as “syllabus week?” While sometimes syllabi are helpful (and they are especially helpful before the semester starts up), there’s only so much you can tell about the difficulty of the material by reading a week-by-week schedule. You have to be able to see how everything fits and functions in your schedule and how much material you will actually be absorbing – not just from that one class but also from all classes.
Because the semester typically follows a holiday (either Labor Day or Martin Luther King Jr. Day), some classes will only meet once or twice prior to the drop/add, and the students enrolled never even get a feel for the class.
One of the justifications for originally changing the deadline was to line up with the SUNY system’s drop/add policy, which extends about a week. But more importantly, departments wanted to be able to control enrollment by the second week of course. The policy was changed to eliminate problems teachers were dealing with and completely disregarded the problems the students were facing.
Professors don’t want to have to re-teach the material three weeks into the semester to incoming students, and that’s fine – they shouldn’t have to. There’s no need to employ “shopping periods” – two weeks of students doing nothing but class-hopping to decide which ones they want to keep – or have additional course plans for incoming students. Let the students be responsible for making up the material on their own time if they really want to take the course.
If the drop/add is extended, students will get a better idea of the course content and the professor’s style. It’s not unreasonable to ask for two weeks – many private universities (including Buffalo’s D’Youville College) employ this system, and everybody is managing just fine.
At UB, classes are being canceled due to low enrollment, causing the students to struggle for a replacement, and upperclassmen are finding constant difficulties to graduate on time. Every little thing creates a ripple effect, and it could all be remedied with just a little wiggle room.