UT students deserve a two week add-drop period

Tanya Chen

The beginning of the semester is rough for everyone, and it often takes more than just the first week to really get into the groove of things. Between student organization meetings and swapping the classes you hastily added last semester for slightly more useful ones, it can sometimes feel like you’ve been dropped in the middle of a battleground. 

The five day add/drop period is nowhere near long enough for students to decide what they want the rest of their semester to look like, especially when they’re already stressed trying to readjust to their new schedules. 

In the first week of the semester, professors spend the bulk of their time reviewing syllabi, resulting in no substantial learning of course content. Additionally, the first five class days are always split by a weekend, rendering them even less representative of students’ average workload and schedule further along in the semester. As a result, students have to decide between adding and dropping classes without having an accurate picture of what their semester will look like going forward. 

Therefore, students would benefit from an extension of the current add/drop period to ten class days, as it would give them more time to try different classes and get a better grasp of the time commitment each one requires before finalizing their schedules. This could reduce the total number of Q-drops requested per semester, giving UT administration more time to focus on student enrichment instead of processing Q-drop requests. 

I know I am not the only person who repeatedly feels blindsided by the end of our woefully short add/drop period. Kelsia Adil, a finance and international relations and global studies freshman, has also found herself struggling to make decisions among course options within such a narrow time frame. 

“Having only the first five days to waitlist, add and drop puts a lot of pressure on students to decide which classes to take,” Adil said. “Some classes only occur once a week, so we can only attend one class before we have to make a decision as to whether or not we want to stick with it for the rest of the semester.”

One major concern about increasing the length of the add/drop period is that students will not be able to catch up in the classes that they added towards the end of the period. 

“If you had a longer add/drop and a Monday-Wednesday-Friday class, in theory, you could miss six classes and still be allowed to add,” said Brenda Schumann, director of records and registration and deputy registrar. “Could you catch up if you’ve already missed, in essence, six hours of lecture, not counting the hours you spend on assignments outside of class?”

While this is a valid concern, most students are generally aware of their limits and likely would not take on more than they can handle. In addition, we can look to examples of other schools to determine if this policy could work for UT as well. 

UCLA and UC Berkeley have had success with implementing a two-week add/drop period. Harvard University also provides its students with a two-week add/drop that incorporates a “shopping week” during which students are encouraged to try out different classes before deciding which ones to commit to. At these schools, students seem to have benefited from the longer period of flexibility without experiencing much difficulty in making up missed coursework. 

Extending the add/drop period would not only provide more time for students to finalize their schedules but also reduce student and administration stress, and it is a policy change I strongly hope to see enacted during my time at UT. 

Chen is a Plan II and business freshman from Austin, Texas.