New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

New York University's independent student newspaper, established in 1973.

Washington Square News

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Opinion: The case for extending the add/drop period

Two weeks is not enough time for students to determine if their courses are right for them.
Qianshan Weng
(Qianshan Weng for WSN)

I remember thinking that I had a perfect schedule during course registration last semester, but I was plainly mistaken and found myself wanting to change course after the first few weeks of classes. New classes and professors always bring a level of uncertainty to each semester, which NYU could help students navigate better if it gave them more time to change their schedules without facing consequences.

As of now, NYU gives students around two weeks to add or drop classes in their schedules — the deadline just passed on Sept. 18. Two weeks might be enough for some students to determine whether they like their classes and professors, but it can be difficult to know the true nature of a course until more time has passed. A small extension to the add/drop period — say, to three weeks instead of two — would help reduce pressure on students and give them the flexibility to find classes with a good fit.

During the initial two weeks of the semester, classes mostly consist of covering the syllabus and light reading to give students an idea of a course’s content. Some classes might not even meet until the start of the second week due to the academic calendar, meaning students actually have even less time to decide whether to change their enrollment. 

While syllabi can help students get the gist of a class, they can sometimes be misleading. We’ve all taken a class where the workload seemed much lighter than it turned out to be, a situation that can be avoided if students have more time to try a course out. Syllabi are also sometimes changed early in a course, leaving students no way out of a class that might no longer be covering content they are interested in.

The current length of the add/drop period can be helpful for NYU to determine enrollment numbers for each course, which are used to decide if a course needs to be canceled or its number of sections needs to be adjusted. While it is understandable that NYU would want to have these numbers as soon as possible, three weeks into the semester is still early enough for it to make changes to courses.

Extending the add/drop period would also better support students from varied educational backgrounds. NYU is known for having a diverse student body, which means students are coming from schools with differing levels of rigor and similarity to the university’s structure. Giving students longer to try to adjust to new teaching methods can help them make better decisions about whether a professor is compatible with their learning styles.

One reason the university might shy away from extending the add/drop period is for fear that students might miss too much class content if they enroll later than two weeks after the start of the semester. Pushing the deadline by too much might make this an issue, but a one-week extension would only leave students with a small amount of additional work to catch up on. While students have the option to request withdrawal from a course after the add/drop period, dropping a course after the first two weeks leaves students with a “W” grade on their transcript. This makes it not worth it for most students to change their schedules, even if only a few days have passed since the add/drop deadline or they really regret their course choices.

Extending the add/drop period at NYU from two to three weeks is a crucial step toward promoting student success and curiosity, decreasing unneeded stress and accommodating varied needs within the student body.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Molly Koch at [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Molly Koch, Opinion Editor
Molly Koch is a junior in Gallatin concentrating in journalism as an art form. They’re fascinated by classical literature and its influence on the power of the written word. When they are not writing, you can find them reading their way through their endless TBR, running along the Hudson or Facetiming their dog.
Qianshan Weng, Multimedia Editor
Qianshan Weng is a junior studying Media, Culture and Communication and Journalism. You may pronounce his name as "chi''en-shan", or, if it makes your life easier, just call him "Ben." He grew up in Shenzhen, China, and has spent the last five years or so saying that he wants to learn Cantonese. The answers to the questions "when will he finally start?" and "why is this taking him so long?" remain mysteries, even to himself. You can reach out to him at [email protected]

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