Class add-drop stress not limited to students

Overcrowded lecture halls are a common sight at the start of semester.

Overcrowded lecture halls are a common sight at the start of semester.

Adding, dropping and swapping courses hasn’t just relieved and frustrated students — professors are also feeling the strain.

Ryerson’s enrolment policy allows students to switch around their schedule during the first two weeks of the term without academic penalty or fee. Many students use the add-drop buffer as an opportunity to try and cop a spot in a full course.

“I advise (my students) just to continue to monitor RAMSS and hopefully a spot will open up in one of the classes they want,” said Anne-Marie Donovan, an undergraduate program administrator in the history department.
Others use those two weeks to test the waters of an unfamiliar subject area, knowing that they can drop it or swap it, and drop it again.

But adding and dropping courses at the click of button is not always as painless as it sounds; two weeks into the term, many students and staff were dealing with add-drop stress.

“Is it fair for students to expect them to catch up a quarter of the term in, and is it fair for other students to have to accommodate these students?” said Judy Finlay, an associate professor in the school of child and youth care department.

In Finlay’s course, newcomers will be behind the rest of the class because she assigns work on the very first day of school.

“They’re handing in an assignment and it’s their second week, so that means that any student that comes now will miss an assignment and will have to make it up,” she said.

Finlay said because her course is heavily structured around group work, it’s problematic when a student shows up for the first time at the start of the third week.

“They haven’t participated in the course or the culture of the class,” she said. “It makes it really, really difficult for that person to integrate into the group; it’s difficult for the group, it’s difficult for the student.”

Donovan said although it isn’t ideal when students join classes late, sometimes it’s the only way to gain access to a course.

“What else is the choice?” she said. “You have to get classes.”

There are students, however, who have a perfect schedule from Day 1. Second-year contemporary science major Nidhi Dave and second-year child and youth care major Trisha Rolfe both said they’ve never switched around their schedules during the add-drop period.

Others haven’t been so lucky. Chang school student Marise Elrahev said she tried to switch her intro to biology course to a time that better accommodates her hour-and-a-half commute, with no success.

“It’s full for now,” she said. “I’m just going to check RAMSS every day, but I’m guessing we’re already two weeks in so no one is going to drop out now.”

Even though the add-drop deadline passed, Finlay said she’s anticipating new faces in her class this week.

“I have my attendance sheet, I have these 10 spaces left at the bottom to write people’s names in,” she said.

This story was first published in The Ryersonian, a weekly newspaper produced by the Ryerson School of Journalism, on September 18, 2013.

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