Skip to main content

The end of Round 2 of Registration for Spring 2023 (#1211)

Topics/tags: Registration, Rants, Data, Disjoint

As you’ll be able to tell, I’m still in my too lazy to edit mode. Sorry.

Round 2 of Grinnell’s new registration process ends today. Even though there are a few more hours left, I’m fairly sure we’re close enough to being done with changes that I can muse about round 2. Or maybe that’s just an excuse for not-perfectly-accurate data.

I have some comments about what I’ve learned or thought about during round 2, but let’s start with some data. In particular, let’s see what classes filled and when. I expect I’ll find these data useful the next time students register. I hope others will, too.

I’ve done my best to group the courses by department [1,2]. For my convenience, I’ve used the abbreviated course names, since I can pull those directly from the spreadsheet. Note that I use Round 2a for The first day of round 2, when seniors get to register, Round 2b for The second day of round 2, when third-year students get to register, and so on and so forth.


  • ANT-291-01, Meth Empirical Investigation (18/18), filled in round 1


  • ART-111-02, Introduction to the Studio (15/15), filled in round 1
  • ART-134-01, Drawing (15/15), filled in round 1
  • ART-242-01, Sculpture (15/15), filled in round 2a

Biological Chemistry

  • BCM-262-01, Intro Biological Chem w/lab (24/24), filled in round 1
  • BCM-262L-03, Intro to Biological Chem Lab (12/12), filled in round 1


  • BIO-150-01, Intro to Biolgcl Inqry w/lab (24/24), filled in round 1
  • BIO-252-03, Orgnsms, Evoltn, Ecolgy w/lab (24/24), filled in round 1
  • BIO-340-01, Aquatic Biology w/lab (14/12), filled in round 1
  • BIO-363-01, Neurobiology w/lab (12/12), filled in round 1
  • BIO-365-01, Microbiology w/lab (18/18), filled in round 2b
  • BIO-365L-01, Microbiology Lab (10/10), filled in round 1
  • BIO-375-01, Principles Phrmclgy w/lab (13/12), filled in round 1


  • CHM-129-02, General Chemistry w/lab (24/24), filled in round 1
  • CHM-222-02, Organic Chemistry II w/lab (24/24), filled in round 1
  • CHM-222-03, Organic Chemistry II w/lab (24/24), filled in round 1
  • CHM-222L-03, Organic Chemistry II Lab (20/20), filled in round 1
  • CHM-222L-04, Organic Chemistry II Lab (20/20), filled in round 1

Computer Science

  • CSC-151-01, Functional Prob Solving w/lab (24/24), filled in round 1
  • CSC-161-02, Imperative Prob Solving w/lab (24/24), filled in round 1
  • CSC-161-03, Imperative Prob Solving w/lab (24/24), filled in round 1
  • CSC-207-01, OO Prob Slvg, Data Struc/Alg (24/24), filled in round 1
  • CSC-207-02, OO Prob Slvg, Data Struc/Alg (24/24), filled in round 1
  • CSC-208-01, Discrete Structures (20/20), filled in round 1
  • CSC-301-01, Analysis of Algorithms (20/20), filled in round 1
  • CSC-312-01, Programming Language Implmntn (24/24), filled in round 1
  • CSC-324-01, Software Design & Dev w/Lab (20/20), filled in round 1
  • CSC-341-01, Auto, Frm Lng, Cmp Cmplxty (20/20), filled in round 2a


  • ECN-280-01, Microeconomic Analysis (25/25), filled in round 1
  • ECN-282-01, Macroeconomic Analysis (27/25), filled in round 1
  • ECN-286-01, Econometrics (20/20), filled in round 1
  • ECN-295-02, ST: Industrial Organization (26/25), filled in round 1


  • ENG-205-01, The Craft of Fiction (15/15), filled in round 1
  • ENG-205-02, The Craft of Fiction (15/15), filled in round 2c
  • ENG-385-01, Writing Seminar: Fiction (16/15), filled in round 1

Environmental Studies

  • ENV-120-01, Environ Challenge & Responses (10/10), filled in round 1

First-Year Experience

  • FYE-100-13, FYE: Connections (25/25), filled in round 2a. I’m not really sure how.
  • FYE-100-25, FYE: Connections (25/25), filled in round 2a. I’m not really sure how.


  • MAT/SST-115-01, Introduction to Statistics (28/28), filled in round 1
  • MAT-133-03, Calculus II (32/32), filled in round 1
  • MAT-208-01, Discrete Structures (20/20), filled in round 1
  • MAT-218-01, Elementary Number Theory (20/20), filled in round 2a
  • MAT-321-01, Foundatns of Abstract Algebra (20/20), filled in round 2c


  • MUS-219-01, Electronic Music (12/12), filled in round 1


  • NRS-250L-01, Neuroscience Lab (16/16), filled in round 1

Physical Education

  • PHE-100-05, Bowling (12/12), filled in round 1
  • PHE-100-19, Rock Climbing (7/7), filled in round 1
  • PHE-100-48A, Yoga (25/25), filled in round 2c


  • PHY-234L-01, Mechanics Lab (13/12), filled in round 2a

Political Science

  • POL/PST-220-01, Foundations of Policy Analysis (26/25), filled in round 1
  • POL-319-01, Advanced Constitutional Law (15/15), filled in round 1


  • PSY-225-01, Research Methods (25/25), filled in round 1
  • PSY-248-01, Psychopathology & Clinical Sci (25/25), filled in round 1


  • SOC-285-01, Contemp Sociological Theory (18/18), filled in round 1
  • SOC-291-01, Meth Empirical Investigation (18/18), filled in round 1
  • SOC-395-03, ST: Regimes and Resistance (15/15), filled in round 2b

Social Studies

  • SST-110-01, Comparative Herbalism (10/10), filled in round 1
  • SST-110-02, Comparative Herbalism (10/10), filled in round 1


  • STA-209-04, Applied Statistics (26/26), filled in round 1
  • STA-230-01, Introduction to Data Science (18/18), filled in round 1
  • STA-395-01, ST: Intro to ML (25/24), filled in round 1

Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies

  • THD-195-01, ST: Costume Design for Stage (8/8), filled in round 1

We also have a few that filled in round 1 and then changed status.

  • CHM-210L-01, Inorgnc & Analytcl Chem Lab (22/24), filled at 19/16 in round 1 and then had its capacity expanded.
  • CHM-363L-02, Physical Chemistry I Lab (11/12), filled at 12/12 in round 1 and then students switched sections.

I think ART-134-01, CHM-222-03, MUS-219-01, PSY-225-01, and SST-110-01 each filled, then dropped below capacity, and then filled again. But they were all over-enrolled in round 1, so I’m leaving them that way. I suppose that fill/unfill in round 2 leaves some questions about fairness, but that may beyond my ken.

In any case, about 64 classes and labs filled in the first two rounds. That’s out of approximately 700 classes and labs (including lots and lots of music lessons). That suggests that lots of courses should be available for round 3. Fingers crossed!

What have I learned about our new registration over the past few days? Too much. Too little. Perhaps somewhere in between.

There are clear inequities in our system. For example, I talked to some advisors who told their students Don’t bother registering for major classes in round one; we know that there will be enough spots in round three. In contrast, I had to tell my major advisees, Register for your CS courses in round 1. They’ll be filled before we get to round 3. That doesn’t seem equitable. Students in some disciplines can use round 1 for exploration; others cannot.

That inequity also leads to a perception problem. Particularly since we call it priority registration, does the need to select, say, science courses in round one suggest that those courses are somehow higher priority in a student’s education? [3] It shouldn’t. Our courses in humanities, social studies, and cross-divisional disciplines are equally valuable, if not more so. Registration decisions are more of a resource issue.

Certain classes also lead to further inequities. For example, students register separately and earlier for Economics seminars and courses with course-embedded travel. Those students know in advance whether or not they are selected for those courses and don’t need to register for them in round 1. That gives them much more freedom in round 1, whether it’s to select courses in their major or to select courses that enhance their education.

There are many issues with multi-section courses over-enrolling, particularly because the Registrar’s office will no longer balance sections. I know, for example, that Chemistry is willing to expand sections to meet demand [4], but don’t want to place the burden on any one faculty member. Hence, they traditionally start with reasonable caps of 24 or so, and then increase as necessary, keeping sections balanced. Our new process does not permit that.

I don’t support the decision to have filled/closed classes open up again if someone drops. It seems to violate our priority systems. For example, even if a course prioritizes seniors, if a second-year student drops the course in round 2c, another second-year can take that place, even if a senior wanted the course. At least it seems that way. Too much is hidden. Once a class fills, it should stay closed until round 3.

I’ve also heard that we’ve also encountered some students who want to bypass the system, students who complain directly to faculty when they cannot get into a class and ask to be added. I hope that students come to understand that we’re trying to make a more equitable system, and a system that relies on students making contact with faculty prioritizes certain types of students. Am I backing off on my view that We’re small enough that we can make individualized decisions? I’m not sure. I still believe that. But I want us to make individual decisions without giving preference to the students who have the privilege or the chutzpah to ask for special treatment.

I’d like to see a category in our priority system for students who took a course previously, but did not pass. Those situations happen. We should make it clear to students what their chance of retaking a class is. In general, I think such students should have priority for retaking classes. Of course, timing can be difficult; for example, if a student fails a class in the fall, the corresponding spring course will have enrolledby the time the student fails. However, we’ll still have a waiting list in the spring; giving these students a priority on the waiting list seems appropriate [5]. Some students also wait another semester before retaking a class. In any case our system should accommodate such students.

I’ve learned that this process is harder to predict than I thought. For example, it looked like we had enough spots in CSC-341 during round 1. At the end of round 2, it is almost completely full. But I have at least one advisee who definitely needs 341 this spring and is not yet enrolled. I hope one of us wakes up in time to get them enrolled.

On the other hand, I’m surprised to see how many slots remain available for CSC-151, particularly since CSC-151 usually fills. That may be because we’re saving spots for first-years. Did we set aside too many? I wish there was a way to tell. I guess we’ll learn in rounds 3 and 4.

It looks like students find themselves confused by our waitlist system. For example, I see that there are five students on the waitlist for CSC-301, nine on the waitlist for CSC-312, and another nine on the waitlist for CSC-324. However, the Registrar will erase those waitlists at the end of round 2. So was there a point to students adding themselves to those waitlists? I have no idea. I suppose faculty members also find themselves confused; at least this faculty member does.

In any case, I look forward to learning more about the processes and effects of our new registration. Most importantly, I hope things work out reasonably well for everyone!

[1] Or alphabetically first department, for courses with multiple departments.

[2] Also concentration or division. We also have a few other categories, like TUT (tutorial) and FYE (first-year experience).

[3] I stole that question from a colleague.

[4] They are much nicer than they should be.

[5] Alternately, if a department decides those students don’t have precedence, then the students should know.

Version 1.0 of 2022-11-10.