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Preregistration (for Fall 2017)

Topics/tags: Registration

Grinnell’s preregistration period is almost done [1]. During prereg, I successfully registered all 44 of my advisees who needed to register [2]. It was an interesting process. Many of them are rising third-year students who just declared a CS major. Since we spent a lot of time on their four-year plans, we didn’t have to make many changes [3] and could sometimes do our work via email. But some clearly needed to chat. Some needed to be reminded to enter their schedules on [4], our Ellucian site. Some needed to be reminded to clear holds on their account. I also met with some in person, formally during office hours or informally in a variety of locations [5]. My advisees who are abroad consulted with me via email. But I got it done!

That part of prereg took too much mental energy; I’m not yet ready for the next part of prereg [6]. I probably don’t have the time to muse deeply on any subject. It’s clearly time for the end-of-prereg over-enrollment analysis! I wonder if anyone regularly records enrollments at the end of prereg, before we engage in CCB [7].

Well, here goes. You might be able to play along at

Katya’s Cultural Politics of Fashion is over-enrolled by 10, with 25 people registered for a class intended for fifteen. It’s at an interesting time (Monday, 7:00-9:50 p.m.) and has an interesting topic. It’s also a Katya course, which I know many students appreciate. Surprisingly, though, her Shaping American Identity in Moving Images [8] is not over-enrolled.

As seems to be the norm, a section of Introduction to the Studio is over-enrolled. The TuTh morning section has 20 in a course that can’t really hold more than 15. The MW afternoon section is full. The MW morning section has room, but I’m guessing that folks can’t switch. And what happens to the first-years who want to take the course?

As also seems to be the norm, Drawing is significantly over-enrolled. There are 32 people enrolled in a fifteen-person class. I wonder if Art can find a way to offer another section.

Section 1 of BIO 251 is over-enrolled by 23 students, with 47 in a class that is intended for 24. Fortunately, there are 8 slots available in section 2, 16 in section 3, and 4 in section 4. That should work out okay.

In contrast, there doesn’t seem to be an easy first for the 300-level Bio courses. Fungal is over-enrolled by 8, Microbiology is over-enrolled by 8, Pharmacology is over-enrolled by 14 [9], Molecular Biology is over-enrolled by 6. There’s room in Readings in Biology. However, it’s a two-credit non-lab class.

Organic Chemistry I may be in the worst shape. Section 1 is over-enrolled by 32. Section 2 is over-enrolled by 17. Section 3 has one slot. I’d swear that that’s all that existed when I checked earlier today. But there’s a section 4 with eleven slots. Still, 32+17 is a lot bigger than 1+11. Not surprisingly, the Organic Chemistry I Lab sections are also overfull by a similar amount. I wonder what Chemistry will do? Maybe they should ask the person who spoke up in the Chair’s meeting to say I’m not sure why departments ask to add sections or allow courses to over-enroll. In any case, I wish my colleagues in Chem success at whatever approach they choose. I know that they’ve handled this issue before, and I’m confident that they can do so again.

Wait! There are more over-enrollments in Chemistry. Three extra in Instrumental, four in PChem I, two each in the two sections of PChem I Lab. Knowing my colleagues in Chemistry, they’ll just let these courses over-enroll.

Next up is History of Ancient Greece, over-enrolled by 15, with 40 in a class designed for 25. It’s an MC course, so it’s not surprising that it’s over-enrolled. Over-enrolled MC courses are one of the facts of life of Grinnell.

Ooh, we’re next! Let’s see what’s up with my department. Architecture is over-enrolled by 14. I hope we can push those students somewhere else. Section 2 of Algorithms is over-enrolled by 3, but there’s room in Section 1. I had anticipated issues, which is why we have two sections. We’ll ask the Registrar to balance those [11]. I hadn’t anticipated over-enrollment in our two Software Design courses, but CSC 321 is over-enrolled by 7 and CSC 322 is over-enrolled by 11. However, they are my courses and I taught them with slightly smaller over-enrollments this semester. I suppose I can do it once more. I also had not anticipated that Automata, Formal Languages, and Computational Complexity would be over-enrolled. Its cap is already too high at 24; we really don’t need 26 students in a proof-oriented class. We’ll need to think about that one, too [14].

Surprisingly, Economics is in reasonable shape. I’ll need to talk to their chair about how they achieved that. Macroeconomic Analysis has one section that is over-enrolled by two, but the other section has seven slots. One of their seminars is over-enrolled by one. However, since there are a few slots in the other seminars and that Econ normally places students in seminars, I’m guessing that they decided to allow one to over-enroll slightly.

Historical Perspectives on US Education is over-enrolled by two. That doesn’t sound too bad.

We now return you to courses that traditionally over-enroll. The Craft of Fiction has 37 students in a class designed for fifteen. I don’t think you can workshop writing well with more than fifteen, so English will have to do something creative [15].

The next department with over-enrolled classes is History, with two extra in History of Modern Middle East and fifteen extra in a special topic on The Crusades. Damn! I have students who signed up for those classes. I hope they’ll get to stay. There are also two extra students in Sarah’s 19th Century American Pop Culture. Knowing Sarah, they’ll get to stay. Surprisingly, neither History of Women in the U.S. nor 20th Century American Sexualities is over-enrolled. That surprises me; I’m pretty sure that they had huge over-enrollment when they were last offered.

Are you bored yet? I’m not. Believe it or not, but I really enjoy reading through these things.

Some of our Humanities special topics are over-enrolled. There are twelve too many in Politics of Human Thriving and four too many in Mental Health Policy and Outreach.

Next up is Mathematics and Statistics. Interestingly, MAT 209: Applied Statistics seems to be in better shape than normal. One section is over-enrolled by eight and another by five, but the other section has eight open slots. Usually all the sections are over-enrolled. I assume they’ll balance and allow a slight over-enrollment. Linear has one extra in one section, but nine open slots in the 8:00 a.m. section [16]. Graph Theory has eight students too many. That’s a proof-based course, so they’ll have to cut some of them. Fortunately, many of those students can go to Number Theory.

Then we hit the upper-level Statistics classes. Section 1 of Statistical Modeling is over-enrolled by 21, but section 2 has ten open slots. I wonder if they modeled that outcome [17]? There are also nine students too many in Prob Stats I. The probability that some students will be cut is high.

In Music, Music, Mind, & Brain has one student too many, and Mark Laver’s Topics in American Music: Hip Hop has five too many. If I’d paid attention, I would have predicted that Mark’s class would over-enroll. But I would have assumed it would be more than that.

Back to the Sciences, particularly Physics. One Modern Physics Lab is over-enrolled, but the other has room. They can balance those. Electromagnetic Theory is over-enrolled by four, and Ad Lab is over-enrolled by two.

Political Science, one of the other big majors, naturally has a bunch of over-enrolled courses: twenty one extra in Con Law, twelve in Politics of International Relations, seven in US Foreign Policymaking Process, two in Political Econ of Developing Countries.

Now I’m running out of steam. It’s time for a bulleted list without commentary.

  • PSY 295.01: Health Psychology Across Lifespan: 33/25 (8 over)
  • PSY 295.02: Cross-Cultural Psychology: 29/25 (4 over)
  • REL 295.01: The Crusades: 35/20 (15 over [18])
  • SOC 111.01: Intro Soc: 26/25 (1 over [19,20,21])
  • SOC 242: Deviance and Social Control: 44/22 (22 over)
  • SST 295.01: Politics of Human Thriving: 32/20 (12 over [22])
  • SST 295.03: Ethical Leadership: 22/20 (2 over)

Did I learn anything doing all of that? I learned that a few departments will need to scramble. I think I found evidence that we need more faculty members in CS, Statistics, Studio Art, Chemistry, and Biology. I also discovered that it takes much longer to reflect on over-enrollments than I thought it would.

I plan to return to this topic after CCB is done to see what’s happened to these classes [23]. I may also return again in the fall, once the first year students have registered. That process does not allow courses to over-enroll without instructor permission, but I can look at what classes are close to filling.

If you’d like more background about Grinnell’s preregistration process, I wrote about it in an earlier essay.

Damn! I just realized that the list of course offerings doesn’t get updated after 6:00 p.m. I wonder how much things have changed since then. Oh well, I’ll see tomorrow morning.

[1] It’s 9:00 p.m. on Thursday evening. Prereg ends at midnight.

[2] I have another nine who will be studying abroad in the fall and another sixteen who are graduating this year, bringing the grand total to 69 advisees. There are also a few first-year students who asked me to consult on their plans for the fall, but who I do not officially advise.

[3] I never remember which courses are closed to rising third-year students and seniors until after first-years register, so we had to make a few changes to the schedules of students who planned to take things like Introduction to Sociology or Introduction to Linguistics. I’m pretty sure that they’ll get in to Soc eventually, but I’m not as sure about Linguistics.

[4] There’s probably an essay in that name somewhere.

[5] E.g., during pauses in classes or during lunch.

[6] Cut, close, and balance.

[7] Cut, close, and balance.

[8] It’s listed as Shpng Amer Ident in Mvng Img. I guessed at the expansion.

[9] I hope no students are planning to put Fungal and Pharmacology together [10]

[10] There’s a good story about pharmacological (or at least psychoactive) mushrooms in the Peter Coyote autobiography.

[11] We may then add some of the students we had to shift from CSC 211 [12].

[12] It makes me happy that endnote 11 is about CSC 211.

[14] If you are a prospective or current student (or a prospective or current parent) reading this: Don’t worry! We’ll figure something out. We always do.

[15] They should not have Dean teach another section. The world is much better served by him having time to write another book.

[16] Not surprisingly, most students don’t particularly like 8:00 a.m. classes.

[17] That joke was much better in my head than on paper. But I’m leaving it in anyway.

[18] This course is cross-listed with History. We don’t have two different courses on the Crusades, although it would be interesting to have a matched pair with different perspectives.

[19] Students are clearly happy to have Karla back in the classroom.

[20] Fortunately, the other sections have a lot of room.

[21] Yeah, I realize that I said that I was not going to include comments for the remaining courses. But this one clearly needed a comment.

[22] This course is cross-listed with Humanities. We don’t have two courses with the same names that are over-enrolled by the same amount.

[23] I should save the current data so that I can tell what changed!

Version 1.0.1 released 2017-04-28.

Version 1.0.2 of 2019-11-17.