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Preregistration appointments

Topics/tags: Overcommitment, Grinnell

Grinnell has an interesting registration process. Here’s a quick introduction for those who are not Grinnellians [1]. There’s an eleven-day period in which students preregister for classes, devising a schedule with their advisors, getting advisor approval [2], and then submitting their planned courses to the Registrar’s office. Students used to submit planned courses on paper. Now they do it electronically. At the end of the preregistration process, faculty scramble to deal with the classes that are over-enrolled. I’ll write about the cut, close, and balance process in a separate musing [3].

In spite of the rise of computers, some things remain mostly the same. In particular, advisors need to talk to their advisees about course planning. With about forty advisees, I set aside nearly four full days for appointments.

Let’s look at this past Tuesday, which was the busiest of my appointment days. I had sixteen or so appointment slots available. The times I wasn’t in meetings with students, I had a department meeting and an unexpected lunch break [4]. There was an unscheduled hour in the afternoon, but someone saw my door open and asked to meet. At least one meeting involved multiple students. But some occupied multiple slots. So, all in all, I met with somewhere between sixteen and eighteen students.

Guess what? They weren’t only advising appointments for my advisees. I keep forgetting that prereg period involves more than preregistration. Okay. Scratch that. I know that prereg period involves more than preregistration. Whenever possible, I talk to my advisees about how the current semester is going and about their plans for summer. But I tend to think about prereg period in terms of meeting with advisees about advising.

What happened on Tuesday? Over half of the meetings were, in fact, with advisees about advising. But many fell into other categories.

  • I talked to two non-majors about academic planning. One wanted to plan courses for next semester. One wanted to put together a four-year plan.
  • I talked to a student who wanted to skip CSC-161 and move straight into CSC-207 [5]. Since I’m teaching CSC-207, that gets to be my decision. I gave the student a version of my typical skip CSC-161 test, asking them to read and write code involve dynamic structures [6]. Some of what I look at is the code itself; but, more frequently, I look at how they think about writing and reading the code.
  • I talked to a student who wanted to skip CSC-207 and move straight into a 300-level course. Am I teaching the next course? No. Is this approach consistent with the prior bullet point? No. But I know the 207 curriculum better than the person teaching the next course. In this case, we started by talking through the list of topics we cover in 207. Students seem to think that the AP curriculum covers most of 207. They are usually wrong.
  • I looked at summer options with a student who wanted to take a course over the summer.
  • I helped a few advisees review some material that was confusing them.
  • I discussed the CLS Data Trek with a student. I think I agreed to serve as a reference.

That’s most of the additional work from Tuesday. There may have been more [7], but it’s enough for now.

Since I’m on leave, you might think this musing is a complaint about my workload. It’s not. In the end, the time with students reminded me that I enjoy talking to students about CS and, when possible, providing advice.

But, for the time being, I need to focus on FunDHum.

[1] Or who have not attended Grinnell in recent years.

[2] And, in some cases, instructor approval.

[3] I thought I’d written about it already. But it seems that I have not, unless it’s part of a more extended musing about preregistration.

[4] I had thought our department meeting would include lunch time, if not lunch food.

[5] We have a non-traditional introductory curriculum, so we try to adjust as appropriate to students with different backgrounds. Students are often a bit too optimistic about their knowledge, or sometimes underestimate what we teach in our courses, so these situations are rare. But they do happen.

[6] Dynamic structures, pointers, and memory management are usually the hardest part of CSC 161. If students have mastered those, I’m generally confident that they understand the rest.

[7] There was almost certainly more on the email side.

Version 1.0 of 2018-11-15.