Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

Students work in Gates Hall on Jan. 30, 2023.

January 31, 2023

Computer and Information Science Students Struggle with Course Enrollment, Adding Stress Instead of Classes

Print More

For majors such as information science and computer science, enrollment has nearly doubled in the past five years, creating additional anxiety for students during the add/drop period. 

While the number of enrolled students from Fall 2019 to Fall 2022 changed from 15,043 to 15,735, the degrees conferred in the Computer and Information Sciences major nearly doubled from 682 to 1,250 between 2017 and 2022. 

“With how big the information science major has become, I expected more class options, less time conflicts and for them to fill up less quickly,” said James Kelly ’25. “I don’t mind the larger classes if it means that people are able to take the class that they need.” 

However, at the same time, enrollment in other majors has largely remained unchanged. In particular, architecture and related programs, English, biomedical science and mathematics have maintained relatively stagnant enrollment. 

Business, management and marketing majors have also experienced a drastic increase in enrollment from 1,382 to 1,724. However, no other major appears to have increased at rates as rapid as the computer and information sciences majors. 

In fall 2022, Information Science 2040: Networks had 552 enrolled students while Information Science 1300: Introductory Programming for the Web had 286 students. Information Science 1260: Choices and Consequences in Computing had a total of 690 students enrolled in spring 2022. These three courses serve as core courses in the information science major, requiring all students in the major to compete for select spots in each course. 

“In general, information science is a really attractive major and opens a lot of doors,” said Emma Warden ’25, an information science major. “But it makes it near impossible to enroll in the classes and to be in the major.” 

Since enrollment opens by grade, oftentimes younger students experience difficulty enrolling in courses they desire. 

“There was one class that I really wanted to take and that my advisor recommended to me, but it filled up before pre-enrollment even opened for sophomores,” Kelly said. “This class was a prerequisite for another class I wanted to take so I was a little frustrated.” 

This semester, Warden struggled to find room in required courses that satisfy her requirements in the information science major. In one of her information science courses, Warden described the professor being unable to move due to the swarm of students seated on the floor around her. 

“Kids were sitting on the floor and all down the halls. There were two times as many people as could fit in the classroom,” Warden said. “So many people were on the waitlist and there was a line of fifteen kids trying to talk to the professor after the class to try to get in.” 

Last fall, five out of the six information science core classes were offered in the fall semester, while only two are being taught this spring. As a result, students often face difficulty in enrolling in the limited number of courses offered during the spring semester. 

When designing her schedule, Warden realized that other than the classes she had already taken, no core courses were available for enrollment. 

“The class sizes don’t really change and they kind of just stay the same, but they haven’t adjusted for the demand, at all, from my perspective,” Warden said. 

Fitting in classes that are available to new students in the major also poses a challenge for younger students.

“In the spring it seems like everything is at the same time or needs a prerequisite that I haven’t taken, so that was more of my challenge,” Maddy Allison ’25, an information science major, said. 

Some difficulties depend on specific classes. 

“One of my classes this semester, Information Science 2300: Intermediate Design and Programming for the Web, had so much room the lecture hall feels empty, while the lecture hall for Information Science 2950: Introduction to Data Science feels completely full,” Allison said.

Introductory courses for the computer science major consistently have enrollment of over 400 students. 411 students enrolled in Computer Science 2800: Discrete Structures, and 402 students enrolled in Computer Science 2110: Object-Oriented Programming and Data Structures in the fall 2021 semester. Although some higher level courses appear to be marginally smaller, 289 students completed Computer Science 4320: Introduction to Database Systems this past semester. 

While one might expect seniors and juniors to easily find spots in the classes they wish to take, some students, such as Tommy Tsai ’24, have not found this to be the case given the tight requirements and high demand for many of these classes. 

“As a junior, I assumed that getting into the classes that were interesting and important for graduation would not be difficult,” Tsai said, a computer science major. “Rather, getting into classes requires checking student center and enrollment availability daily during add drop.”