Students will begin registering for courses a week before the first day of classes.

Hannah Rosenberg / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Students will begin registering for courses a week before the first day of classes.

August 26, 2020

On Eve of Enrollment, Students Grapple With Last-Minute Questions at University Forum

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The night before students begin signing up for classes, more than 1,000 people tuned into a forum on this year’s process, eager for answers during a chaotic week of move-in.

Hosts Rhonda Kitch, University registrar, and Lisa Nishii, vice provost for undergraduate education, introduced panelists who described the new teaching modalities just a day before graduate students, seniors and juniors will enroll in their first round of classes.

They told students to complete the enrollment checklist, plan in advance and use campus resources to help them, though some questions remain.

The first wave of enrollment begins with graduate students at 6 a.m. on Aug. 26, ending with first-year students the following day. Students can enroll up to the 18 credit limit during the second wave of enrollment, beginning from Aug. 28 to Aug. 31.

Cornell has divided instruction into seven components — in-person, in-person with transition to online, online classes, asynchronous classes, independent study and directed research.

Those who will not be in Ithaca when classes start, but plan to travel to campus later in the semester, are expected to enroll classes that also provide an online version.

Online classes will have some live portions that will run during specific scheduled meeting times, Kitch said. Seven-week courses that offer in-person and hybrid options will end right before Thanksgiving break. In-person and hybrid classes with transition to online will continue past break in the online modality.

Hybrid classes will be divided into groups that will rotate between different in-person classroom days to space students out, said Ryan Sexton, Hotel School registrar.

Cornell created a six-credit cap for the first round of enrollment, “so that the ability to choose in-person instruction modes is distributed across graduate students, seniors, juniors, sophomores, and first-year students,” according to the course enrollment guide.

The six-credit cap concerns students planning to take courses that don’t fit neatly into the requirement. Additionally, students who pre-enroll in classes that pass the six-credit cap for the first round of enrollment are not expected to join the first round of enrollment.

For students interested in taking two classes that have overlapping time slots, Sexton said there’s room for flexibility, encouraging students to reach out to professors to receive approval and to coordinate their classes with their college registrar.

Ann LaFave, senior director of student services at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, stressed that new students plan in advance to ease the enrollment process — checking in with emails sent by college registrars, advisers and prepared with backup courses, similar to “putting together a puzzle.”

With the condensed period of time given to students to juggle move-in and enrollment among other difficulties, Leslie Meyerhoff, director of priority implementation and assessment for Student and Campus Life, told students: “Take care of your enrollment first, then move in.” Students can arrive “slightly before or after” their scheduled arrival test before testing sites close at 4 p.m.

Among other rising concerns stands the binding financial aid agreement that has alarmed students who have not yet received their financial aid. Despite these concerns, Jonathan Burdick, vice provost for enrollment, encouraged students to sign to secure enrollment, assuring them the financial aid office will address the issues during the semester.

Burdick said the financial aid delays fall under a wider range of delays across the University due to COVID-19.

For students who leave the University during the semester, Burdick assured students’ costs would be adjusted, and LaFave encouraged students to reach out to advisers and their registrars for academic support.

“We’re in this together,” Burdick said in his closing statement.