This year, changes to the 2020-2021 academic calendar made in response to the pandemic — including an amended course registration process, also known as shopping period — generated both welcoming and worried reactions from students.
Students enrolling in the spring semester were required to submit preliminary schedules by 5 p.m. on Dec. 21 — three days after the end of the fall semester. Last year, students did not have to submit their preliminary schedules until Jan. 12. This year, limited-enrollment courses required students to preregister even earlier, with applications for first-year seminars closing on Dec. 2.
Also, Yale College’s Online Course Selection reopened on Jan. 25 for students to add or drop spring semester classes before Feb. 5. This year, since classes began Feb. 1, students have only one week to attend classes before the deadline to seal their schedules — in the past, students were given two full weeks to explore different classes. The new process encouraged students to have their schedules mostly finalized before winter break and to only use the add/drop period for small changes.
Some students said the new changes made shopping period less hectic, while others said the process was confusing and stressful to navigate.
Nicole Rodriguez ’24 said that she liked the changes because she was forced to start thinking about her classes before winter break. After meeting with her academic advisor, she considered the courses she wanted to take and felt confident in her selections when she submitted her preliminary schedule. But she also said that it was strange to have preliminary schedules due so soon after finals, although she was relieved to focus on other things during winter break.
“I’m not looking for classes during my break,” Rodriguez said. “I think it helps that they closed the [Online Course Selection] site down completely [during break] because I feel like I would’ve been on it a bunch of times.”
Rodriguez said she appreciated the shortened add/drop period because it reduces the uncertainty of not knowing which classes she will be taking for the rest of the semester. She also found it helpful knowing that fewer of her classmates would be changing after the first few days.
But Ivan Mangal ’23 felt overwhelmed by the new process, which required him to balance course registration and final exams. As a peer liaison for La Casa Latino Cultural, Mangal also assisted first years with their course registration. Mangal observed that the first years he mentored experienced similar challenges managing course registration on top of their final work at the end of the fall semester.
“Something they definitely struggled with in the fall was having to preregister for courses, send applications for seminars, while also doing finals and finalizing coursework,” Mangal said. “It was hard to sort of synthesize information for my first years and explain how course registration worked because of the administrators changing things here and there, or extending deadlines or changing something.”
An added challenge that Mangal and other in-residence students experienced was the new move-in schedule, which required many on-campus students to move in just three or four days before classes started. Mangal pointed out that flight delays caused many students to move in even later, and he worried that the stress of move in would interfere with the start of classes — complicating a process that he already found to be chaotic.
Zach Miller ’21 shared many of Mangal’s concerns about course registration taking place at the end of the fall semester. Although he is satisfied with the classes he decided to take, he found it difficult having to manage everything at once.
“I felt a little overwhelmed, just because [course registration] was overlapping with so many finals and end of the semester work,” Miller said. “I do think that getting it done felt good, but I wish I had had some more time after classes had ended to delve into Blue Booking.”
The deadline for students to submit their final schedules is 5 p.m. on Feb. 5.
Aislinn Kinsella | firstname.lastname@example.org