Forty courses were cancelled since pre-registration in April and the close of the add/drop period, affecting about 400 students’ fall schedules according to the university registrar.

Modified faculty plans or undersubscribed sections of certain courses forced faculty and administrators to eliminate some classes, according to University Registrar John Pierce. The number of courses cancelled, forming a small percentage of the total number of courses offered, is not unusual, Pierce said. “The departments make every effort not to drop classes after students have registered for them, but in some cases they have no choice.”

Most sections cancelled were under-enrolled, and the changes affected a small number of students. Thirty of the classes cancelled had enrollments under 10 students, while 19 of them had fewer than five. According to Pierce, a department closes courses that are too small to utilize teaching manpower efficiently.

“Faculty resources are the most valuable thing we have,” Pierce said.

Other cancellations generally hinge on professors whose availability can change unexpectedly, such as a professor’s leave being extended.

“When a class must be cancelled, we ask the chair [of the department] to write to each student and to offer assistance finding another class,” Pierce said.

According to him, two of the most challenging cancellations to handle were the classes taught by the late professor Christopher Joyner, who fell ill last week and died suddenly on Saturday. The government department actively sought to help students affected find different courses to fit their schedules.

As add/drop drew to a close last week, students with sudden cancellations faced tough choices as limited availability added difficulty to the registration process.

Matthew Westlund (SFS ’14), who was in Joyner’s international law class, said the change, though inevitable, made registration more stressful.

“I really had to scramble and message as many people as possible,” he said. “A lot of teachers I talked to were really understanding, but they had already turned away other students who had been attending class.”

Westlund was able to complete his schedule in the end, but for those that fail to find a full course load during add/drop, the process continues behind the scenes. The registrar’s office worked with the last few students who need to add classes to fill their schedule.

“It goes to show how much Georgetown professors care about not only their students, but also their potential students. They go to great lengths to make sure their students are accommodated,” said Elizabeth Coulter (SFS ‘13), a student in one of Joyner’s classes.

“I am confident that there is no one out there who wants to be full time and isn’t,” Pierce said.

Indeed, according to data, the number of students left with incomplete schedules has stayed similar to the number this time last year.

Save one or two, students who choose to be part-time are seniors who do not need to take a full load to meet graduation requirements. Students can petition their dean’s office to obtain this designation.

According to Pierce, 54 students currently remain part-time — meaning they take fewer than 12 credits­ — and he expects that number to decrease to fewer than 50 in the coming week. This fall’s numbers are in line with last fall, when 46 students were part-time students.

Pierce stressed that making sure that all those that need to carry a full course load can do so is the administration’s principal goal.

“One of the things we are most proud of is our four-year graduation rate,” Pierce said. “In order to maintain the four-year graduation rate, we must make appropriate progress each year.”

A place where the office of the registrar and deans’ offices pay extra mind is first-year registration. According to Pierce, first-years are not as knowledgeable about the registration process and may not know how to fix an incomplete schedule. The university also tries to match supply and demand by constantly monitoring enrollment numbers, especially for freshmen.

This semester, for instance, an extra 120 seats in Introduction to Philosophy were needed. The registrar then worked with the philosophy department to add more sections.

“Add/drop is a stressful time for students, but a lot of people in the dean’s and registrar’s office pay close attention,” Pierce said.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *