ADAMS: Villanova Should Extend Add / Drop Period

Joe Adams, Opinion Columnist

The first full week of classes has quickly come and gone, but so has something else: the add/drop period for classes.

Many students, including myself, have long exhibited frustration when it comes to just how brief this period of time is. This year, we started classes on a Wednesday, and by the following Monday, we had to decide whether or not to keep our courses the way they were. That gave students just under a week to decide what their schedules would look like for the remainder of the semester, without having to withdraw without penalty (better known as “WX”). With just a few more days to decide, students’ schedules would benefit greatly.

This period of time is much too short to determine the outcome of schedules and whether or not a course is meant for an individual. According to a 2008 study from Florian Klapproth of the Berlin Institute of Technology, “Time pressure might keep decision makers from choosing the best alternative since, it has been assumed, they divide their attention between estimating the elapsed time and selecting an alternative.”

It is clear that feeling pressured to make a decision without ample time to do so can negatively impact the choices made, and this rings true with Villanova students. Not only are we having to make this decision on the fly, but we must do this on top of adjusting to classes again, getting acclimated to campus life and making sure our other responsibilities are met during the first week. It is a lot to handle.

I reached out to the Villanova student body to see what they thought through my personal Instagram, and out of 65 respondents, 92% of people responded that the add/drop period should be extended. Furthermore, common feelings of pressure were felt among students, with Carter Smith, a sophomore, stating that it “seems hard to know what a class is like in a week.”

I felt in complete agreement with my fellow classmates. To find out if extending the add/drop period had ever been considered, The Villanovan reached out to Craig Wheeland, the Senior Vice Provost for Academics. 

“As recently as Fall 2018, the University’s Academic Policy Committee considered extending the drop-add period beyond one week at the request of the SGA representatives on the committee,” Wheeland said. “After discussing various options, the majority of the committee viewed the change as unnecessary, because one week to review the syllabi, hear about assignments, meet with faculty members and consider alternative courses is sufficient. In addition, some members expressed concern that extending the drop/add period will be disruptive in the second week as students continue to add or drop courses.”

Wheeland also explained other unique options that the committee had considered. 

“The committee also discussed having a five day add period and seven day drop period,” he said. “However, the majority of the committee concluded that given different registration times, such an asymmetric policy could further disadvantage students with later registration times, e.g., if people routinely register for more classes than they plan to take and then drop courses after the add deadline.”

This information offered some helpful insight into the decision-making process with respect to the timing add/drop period. Hearing the idea that students are registering for more classes than they plan on taking in, putting students with later registration times at a disadvantage, gave me a new perspective. Maybe the problem does not solely lie within the add/drop period. Is it possible that updating or modifying the class registration process holds the answer to fixing this issue?

While I still strongly believe that the add/drop period should be extended, Wheeland gave new insight on how to attempt to “fix” this issue. In the future, if we make our voices heard, there is a strong possibility that the class registration process as a whole could be overhauled.