The Editorial Board recognizes the benefits of allowing students more time to experience classes before committing to them but also realizes the impracticability of implementing a full shopping period given Princeton’s relatively short 12-week semesters. Nonetheless, there are several modifications that we believe should be made to Princeton’s add/drop period that would make it easier for students to shop classes.
First, Princeton can take steps to maximize the amount of course materials available to all students, including those who did not sign up for a given course the previous semester. While the University has taken steps to make some course materials available to all students on Blackboard, further measures can be taken to ensure course syllabi and reading materials are actually accessible to students before classes start. Currently, there seems to be either no policy regarding the date syllabi must be uploaded or if there is one, it isn’t being enforced. This measure would provide students with the ability to gain more information about a class and thus better inform their eventual course selection decisions. This information is particularly important for students who are deciding between courses that meet at the same time and cannot attend all of the lectures for both during the add/drop period.
Second, the University, to as great an extent as possible and with professors’ consent, should endeavor to make recordings available of the introductory lectures or meetings of classes, beginning with the most popular and most heavily shopped. By posting these introductory lectures on Blackboard, students shopping multiple courses with the same meeting time could more easily view the first lectures of all the courses they are considering, and students who add a course late can easily catch up on the material they missed.
Finally, the University should implement a policy dictating that no precepts or lab sections can meet and no assignments can be due until the second full week of classes. As it stands, the University allows students to enter a class in the second week, but some classes have already held a precept or had work due during the first week, and students start off the semester behind. A new University-wide policy would make it much easier for students to shop classes for the full two week shopping period and not suffer academically for that decision.
We believe that maximizing the ability for students to shop classes would be greatly beneficial to a Princeton education. As a liberal arts university, Princeton encourages students to push their academic boundaries and experience a wide array of courses. When students can more easily try out many different classes and add courses without fear of being too far behind, they are more incentivized to attempt courses they might not have otherwise considered, and every student benefits from having increased information about the greatest number of potential courses. We encourage the University to implement these policies in order to make Princeton’s first weeks of classes more like a true shopping period.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/08/31406/