This year, schedules for Winter Term were released at the end of Fall Term, as opposed to their release at the start of Winter Term in past years. In addition, the Add/Drop period was changed to allow for classes to meet twice before the period opened.
The change in schedule release to the end of Fall Term was a return to Andover’s former methods. According to Kenneth Shows, Associate Director of Studies for Scheduling, the release of Winter Term schedules at the end of Fall Term was a norm before the Covid-19 pandemic.
“[This] is something we’ve been doing for a while. We weren’t able to do it in the heart of the pandemic because the schedule changed so much, but [in] my time as scheduling officer, it’s something we try to do for Winter and Spring Term. Fall Term is different, since when course requests happen, we still don’t actually know what the true schedule is. We know which courses we’re offering, but not who’s teaching them, what periods they’re offered, and how many sections there may be. On the other hand, during Winter and Spring Terms that stuff is more of a known quantity, so it lets us do the scheduling more quickly than we can do in the summer,” said Shows.
While certain modifications resembled a return to old scheduling, there were unfamiliar changes made to the Add/Drop schedule. Requests were only allowed to be submitted on December 2, after one period of each selected course, compared to previous terms where Add/Drop was available on the day of classes.
“We’ve just noticed that some students really decide they like the class after they’ve been going for a few days. We wanted to give them that opportunity to maybe decide if they like that class before they submit an Add/Drop slip [so] they can have a real sense of their schedule before they make changes. We hope this minimizes shuffling, and maximizes the students’ knowledge of the schedule so they can make educated changes,” said Shows.
Constantine Krenteras ’24 agreed with Shows’s sentiment and enjoyed having earlier access to his schedule in comparison with previous years. However, Krenteras wished for an earlier Add/Drop period.
“[I] definitely preferred having original class schedules released at the end of the term. I guess it would never hurt to have a longer Add/Drop period if that meant starting it before the break. It was kind of weird to have this weird period where you got your course list but you didn’t have Add/Drop, so I would [prefer to] have it earlier,” said Krenteras.
Gabi Vignon-Villani ’25 felt similarly, expressing a hope to change courses without having much work to catch-up on. An Add/Drop after classes began required Vignon-Villani to miss parts of a class he planned to enter.
“I think that Add/Drop should be at the end of the previous term, because during finals weeks sometimes you’ll have extra time, and during those times you can figure out what courses you would take next term. I remember last year I was able to add a class right away, and I didn’t have to miss any of the class, which was nice. This year I did the same thing, but I still missed two periods of the class I switched to,” said Vignon-Villani.
The delayed Add/Drop period was also to mitigate the influx of requests made according to Shows. While Shows understands the potential drawbacks it could have for students, he hoped that the change would benefit the scheduling office, and indirectly, the students.
“In the fall, we received somewhere between 700 and 800 course change requests, not counting the early scheduling that happens before the start of the school. It’s a big number of requests, but manageable because we have a system to handle the volume. We’re hoping it will be fewer in the winter. If we get 500 requests instead of 700 that’s a big difference in terms of our ability to pay attention and handle each request with care,” said Shows.
Shows continued, “I think the pros from our perspective is that it may minimize requests overall, and maybe give students the opportunity to make an informed request. The cons are that students certainly will be in classes for one or two days even if they are dead set against taking a class.”