At Mid-Semester, I Have Some Regrets About My Add/Drop Choices
While we’ve just passed the mid-point of the semester, it seems strange to go back to talking about “Add/Drop” period—but I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. It’s at this time of the year that we’ve finally gotten to know our classes, the pace of the coursework and our professors. Around this time is when we can really say with certainty whether or not a class is fit for us, and we may be having some regrets about the classes we have chosen to take. But, obviously, at halfway through the semester it would be ridiculous to be allowed to change classes now.
For me, these regrets and bad feelings about some classes began to form about two to three weeks into the semester—but even at that point it was too late in the game to make a change.
Once we pass the first week of school we’re stuck with the classes we’ve chosen and the professors whose teaching styles we don’t really know yet. But is it really possible to figure out whether or not you want to stick with a course in just two classes? With Marist’s Add/Drop class period lasting only a week, that’s exactly what we’re expected to do.
I’m not arguing that Add/Drop should last halfway into the semester, but lately I’ve been feeling like it could at least be longer than one week.
How can a student decide, over the course of one, maybe two, classes, if the professor is the right fit for them? Or if the course load is going to be something they can handle? Most of the time, the first class of the semester consists of the the professor going over the syllabus and explaining how they plan to run the class. In theory, this should be enough for a student to understand if the pace, assignments, and teaching style will be right for them. But in practice, the syllabus usually doesn’t tell the whole story. Past the first week, classes can sometimes feel completely different than how they were advertised.
Sometimes a professor will end up changing the syllabus so much that the class barely resembles with it appeared to be on the first day. A professor may claim that group discussions will dominate class time, when in reality they end up lecturing for an hour and 15 minutes each session. A class, at first glance, may not appear to be reading-heavy, but the professor may never go over the textbook material and still expect students to know it for the exams. These aren’t things that you can anticipate based on one day of class, and this could be an issue for students that have different learning styles.
Usually the first days of every class are a wash. Although going over the syllabus gives you a slight idea of the course, it doesn’t give you—but there’s still hope for the second day. Sometimes this one isn’t that helpful either. Usually during “syllabus week” assignments are slim to none, so it’s unlikely that one will be learning anything too demanding by the second class. Often, the second class can be devoted to getting to know each other, with every student introducing themselves over the course of an entire session. Yes this is helpful, it makes class more comfortable for the remainder of the semester and helps students make new friends, but it still doesn’t allow someone to figure out whether or not a professor is right for them.
By the end of the first week, we’ve had two meetings of every class and have understood what the courses are supposed to be, but not what they actually are. But either way, we have to decide by Friday at 5 p.m. whether or not we want to remain in the class. One of my professors this semester told us on the first day that we’d go over the syllabus, and the second class would be a lecture so that we could understand the way she taught before the “Add/Drop” period ended. It seemed like a common sense idea, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that we often don’t get the full picture before “Add/Drop” ends.
It’s true that we can withdraw from courses at Marist up until the end of the second or third week of classes, but we can’t add new courses without risking a penalty. For students with tight schedules, this can pose a big issue. I’m not saying that “Add/Drop” should last until half of the semester, but now that we’re at the midway point, opinions that I formed about classes and professors during the second and third week of school have been fully formed, and I regret not taking advantage of Add/Drop week at the beginning of the semester.
Had the “Add/Drop” period been longer, maybe I wouldn’t be in the not-so-satisfied position I am with a class I’m taking right now. Maybe “Add/Drop” could be two weeks instead of one. Or maybe more professors can do what one of my favorites did, and purposefully take the time to show students (rather than just tell them) what their teaching style actually is.