Shortened Add/Drop Period Harmful to Academics
By The Executive Board
Though we at The Student seem to harp on this every single semester, add/drop is a time of considerable distress, and the shortened duration has done nothing but exacerbate these anxieties. From clogging student and advisor schedules to creating unnecessary stress, add/drop becomes a double-edged sword for most students, particularly given the rise in student body population.

Inviting annual controversy due to its disparate effects on professors and students, who have competing interests, add/drop becomes an annoyance for both as professors wish daily for a complete class list and students frantically search for four classes that fit their schedule and suit their interests. Professors advocate for the shortest possible duration of this time of flux, when it is difficult for them to solidify their class plans or even learn the names of their ever-changing students. On the other hand, students’ academic needs are best met by such a period in which they have the freedom to identify the classes in which they can flourish as scholars. With such a limited number of classes in an Amherst student’s career, it is vital to ascertain that a particular professor, class roster, topic and syllabus will work in a given semester. A shortened add/drop period hampers students’ ability to explore the plethora of options available each semester before committing. It can take two or more sessions to get a true idea of the nature of a course, especially given the fact that the first session is usually squandered on name games and needless recitation of the syllabus that the perfectly literate population of the College should presumably have read before deciding to the attend the course.

Moreover, with the increase in student body population, more students have been kicked out of classes and roam about the campus searching for a fourth class to complete their schedule. Not only does this clog up classes unnecessarily and put extra pressure on students, it also puts both students and professors at a disadvantage because more students are taking classes that were not their first choice and are merely there as a placeholder to satisfy their advisor and the Registrar.

These advisors themselves also suffer from the shorter add/drop period as it limits their ability to provide useful advice, and in some cases, even to sign a form, given the time constraints. With so many students to counsel and forms to sign in just a few days time — particularly since most students cannot decide their final class list until the last two days of add/drop — advisors end up repeating the same advice and information to students, with more lined up at the door.

Amherst has prided itself on its open curriculum and emphasis on freedom and choice, but this system only works if every student truly wants to be there and has made a reasoned judgment about whether the class is the right place for him or her. Those who have the misfortune of signing up for a Wednesday-only seminar only to find that the first time they will be able to attend this class is the very last day of add-drop, leaving little to no time to adjust their schedules, are put in a particularly precarious position by the oddities posed by making the first Wednesday of classes a Monday.

While we applaud the concept of add/drop and understand the scheduling difficulties that Labor Day presents, a shortened add/drop period and the switching of Monday and Wednesday does no one a favor as we all try to navigate through the murky waters of the start of school. Thankfully, it will be over soon, and hopefully changes will be made so that next semester, we can complain about something else.

Issue 02, Submitted 2010-09-20 20:19:39