September 16, 2002

University Will Place Add-Drop Online Next Spring

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Cornell students hoping to avoid standing in long lines to add or drop courses at the beginning of the semester will soon get their wish. The Office of the University Registrar is planning to place course add-drop online for the first time this spring.

Currently, students can enroll in their courses and order official transcripts online. Last year, the University Registrar tested a version of an online add-drop program. According to David Yeh, assistant vice president and University registrar, “we did a very early version. It did not have the functions we were looking for.”

Yeh said that the new online add-drop would have the “same look and feel” as online course enroll and will “use some of the same features.” However, the software will be inherently different because it has a different basic function.

It has not been decided yet whether or not there would be an add-drop preference given to older students or students who need certain courses for their major.

“I could envision a couple of different scenarios,” Yeh said. In the current form of add-drop, there is no preference given to older students.

However, according to Yeh, “if you’re in that major and you need the course for graduation, you’ll definitely have priority.”

Yeh said that while the majority of students do pre-register for classes, there are many students who need to utilize the add-drop process. “About 90 percent of students who are coming back for the fall semester tend to pre-register,” he said.

Yeh added that factors adding to a student’s decision to add or drop a course include their academic performance in the past spring semester or the possibility of changing a major, among others.

Additionally, some students may return to Cornell to find that their courses have been canceled. The reasons for a particular class cancellation include the professor being unable to teach and low enrollment in the course. However, according to Yeh, cancellations are usually uncommon, and vary from year to year. Yeh said there was no information yet to indicate that more courses were canceled this year than in previous years.

“We haven’t done an analysis on that yet … it’s hard to know at this point in time,” he said.

Jennifer Shapiro ’04, said that she would utilize the add-drop if it were placed online. According to Shapiro, the biggest problem with course exchange is “waiting in line. It takes too long. I have better things to do with my time than wait in line with a hundred confused students.”

Waiting lists and course cancellations caused many students to become frustrated with the add-drop process because of their uncertainty over whether or not they would be admitted to their courses.

Laura Diaz ’05 said that she was put on several waiting lists for courses she wanted to get into. “It was very annoying,” she said, “I wasn’t sure whether or not I should buy the books … it was very stressful.”

Diaz attended course exchange in Barton Hall at the beginning of this semester. “I woke up early, at 7 a.m.,” she said, “I had to stand in line from 7:45 to 10 just to get inside the building.”

Diaz said that while she could see the benefits of having the course add-drop placed online, she worried about delays like those commonly experienced during online course enroll. “It [course enroll] took me a while, everyone was trying to get on,” she said.

Hamsa Stainton ’04 said that while he has never been to course exchange in Barton Hall, he believes that putting add-drop online will benefit students at Cornell. “It would make it much more convenient. People always end up switching during the semester anyway.”

According to Yeh, the University Registrar will officially announce the specifics of online add-drop in October. Students will be able to add and drop courses online for the Spring 2003 semester.

Archived article by Kate Cooper