At the beginning of each term at Andover, a special period known as “Add/Drop” allows students to change their courses by making requests through the Office of the Dean of Studies. Although certain cases allow for students to drop classes past the deadline, class schedules are usually set for the remainder of the term following the end of the Add/Drop period.
Kenneth Shows, Associate Director of College Counseling and Associate Dean for Scheduling, provided information on changes made in recent years to the scheduling and Add/Drop processes. He noted that consistent efforts have been made to improve the program.
“The core of the Add/Drop process has remained the same during my time in scheduling, though we try to make small improvements every year. We’ve been able to consistently offer pre-term Add/Drop over the last few years, which I believe is an improvement because it allows a greater number of students to start the term in their final schedules. We have asked students to attend a day of class in the term before requesting changes, which has lowered the overall number of requests, and particularly lowered the number of re-requests,” wrote Shows in an email to The Phillipian.
The Add/Drop process has seen a record amount of success this year in placing students into their desired classes. Of the over 6,100 academic class enrollments this Winter Term, the Office of the Dean of Studies received only a few hundred requests for changes, according to Catherine Tousignant, Instructor in English.
However, according to Shows, the recent Fall Term saw the greatest success in fulfilling requests over the past five years.
“We had fewer change requests from new students to start the term, fewer level changes, and we were able to fulfill more than 80 percent of Add/Drop requests, the highest proportion of any term in my tenure,” wrote Shows.
Shows continued, “Winter Term has not been quite as successful as fall. The proportion of requests fulfilled is lower, but still well within our normal expectations. We expect to fulfill more than two-thirds of all requests for the term. We have fewer Senior electives than we hoped at the beginning of the year, but even despite those issues I’d say it’s been a good term.”
Despite the efforts to maximize the efficiency and success of the Add/Drop period, limited course space prevents some students from making their desired schedule changes. For example, Gracie Aziabor ’26 was unable to add a class that she requested for Winter Term, and she believes that the process favors those who act first.
“I was planning on adding a computer science class, but it just never got put into my schedule. I was considering going to the Dean of Studies Office to add [it] in, but something I’ve talked about with a bunch of people is that the classes fill up so quickly… I think it’s one of those unfortunate things that people have to deal with because it’s like the early bird gets the worm in a sense,” said Aziabor.
Rather than meeting every student’s demands, the Add/Drop process must also take into account class capacity, according to Shows. He advised students to be intentional and flexible in requesting courses.
“At PA, we have chosen to value breadth of offering over meeting demand for individual courses. For example, we offer dozens of senior English electives each term but only 15 seats in each. This means students have an exciting variety of courses from which to choose, but it also means they have to plan carefully and not assume they will get their first choice for a given elective,” wrote Shows.
Shows continued, “I think students are most often disappointed when they make that assumption and don’t think carefully about their alternative. It also means our system generally rewards students who plan their scheduling as carefully as possible. For example, if a student is prioritizing an elective that meets in fourth period, they probably shouldn’t request other classes that also meet in fourth.”
Christian Graziano ’25 highlighted how the Add/Drop period gave the chance for flexibility even after the course request period. He appreciated the efforts made to accommodate students.
“I’ve enjoyed it. I think it gives you an opportunity to feel out your class, and to make sure if it’s something you want to pursue for the [rest] of the term. I feel like it’s been a successful process every time I’ve wanted to do it, so it’s been a good experience for me,” said Graziano.