Whether or not Drexel’s add/drop period is fair is something that I’ve always been on the fence about, but I’ve recently started to believe that they should lengthen it. Setting aside all the technicalities and system-related reasons and looking at it from a purely practical point of view, I genuinely think that a single week is too short a window of time.
Now, the most popular argument as to why the period should be only one week is that making it any longer would cause problems. If it were two weeks, then students dropping out of classes and adding new ones in the second week would be missing out on up to two weeks of classes.
While I don’t 100 percent agree with this particular argument, I can’t deny that it is a fair concern. Having students adding and dropping classes in the second week would potentially cause some problems, because they would have to do extra work to catch up to their classmates.
My counterargument would be that students should be given more control when it comes to adding and dropping courses, and allowing them to add and drop classes in the second week would give us more flexibility. Most of the time, we are able to determine if we should add or drop a class within the first week, but there are some classes that we may still be unsure about, so giving us some extra room to work with would alleviate the stress of making a quick decision in the first week.
In addition, I think it would also function better if the two-week time period were allowed for seniors, juniors, pre-juniors and potentially sophomores. A freshman student, in my opinion, would not have a good enough sense of Drexel’s 10-week quarter system yet because they are still new to it. But students in their later years tend to have a very good understanding of the system. I think that they would benefit from having more time to add or drop a class, and they would be more responsible with managing the risks that come with having more time to decide.
However, this is just one solution for freshman; to be honest, I am not a huge fan of increasing the add/drop period to two weeks and restricting it to upperclassmen. It’s just one idea that I considered when thinking of alternatives to our current system. Another idea that I thought of, and prefer over my initial one, is making the add/drop period three classes instead of one week.
The first week of courses generally consists of three classes, with the first class being focused on the syllabus and an introduction to the subject of the course. The second class is a transition from the introduction to important material, and the third class is a continuation of this. Now, this is assuming that the course has three classes in one week. I feel as though it is very common for courses to have only two face-to-face meetings a week, and it’s mainly for these courses that I think the add/drop period should be adjusted to three classes rather than a single week.
Experiencing only two classes, with the first being a class that is usually just a formality, is simply not a big enough sample size for most students to make an educated decision on whether or not they should remain in the class. Just because students do decide in the first week to drop a class does not necessarily mean that their decision was a well-informed one or that they were perfectly happy with it. If you give students a third class to test the waters, they will have a better understanding of what their general feeling is in relation to the class.
This method, however, also has its own problems. If you change from a strict one week add/drop period to allowing students to experience three classes in a course, you would have to tweak the rules for the different types of classes. This system wouldn’t work for hybrid courses because those only meet face-to-face once a week, and you would have people potentially dropping out in week 3 of a quarter, which would be bad. I also don’t think this system would work for online classes because the environment there is a lot different. The lack of face-to-face lectures in online courses makes it a lot easier for students to go at their own pace right from the start, and it is easier to quickly gain a sense of what the course will be like early on.
I’m not saying that my suggestions for improving the system would work infinitely better than the one already in place. There’s no real way to know that, unless it were to be tested. It would certainly require a lot more work for those designing it, because three classes is a less fixed time period than a one-week deadline, so the one-week deadline may have to be kept in place for certain courses, like those that are online.
Getting a new add/drop system put into place that better accommodates students is probably not a top priority for most Drexel students, myself included, but it would certainly be a nice improvement of quality of life, nonetheless.