Senate Academic Standards, Regulations & Admissions Committee
Response to Charge S-0108, Add/Drop Review
April 15, 2002

At its April 27, 2001 meeting, the Senate endorsed the proposal of  the Academic Standards, Regulations, and Admissions Committee to modify the Add/Drop period to consist of a drop period of seven calendar days and an add period of eight calendar days.  An add period that was longer than the drop period had been introduced as an attempt better to utilize classroom space and to avoid having empty seats in classes, that became available only after the end of the add period.  However, an add period that was two days longer than the drop period caused problems in some courses.  In particular, students were entering courses having already missed three classes, and this could lead to an automatic F.  The proposed add/drop period was therefore arrived at as a compromise.

The ASRA committee has reviewed data from the add/drop period of the Fall 2001 semester.  The scheduled periods were a drop period that extended through seven calendar days from the beginning of the semester, and an add period of eight days, that is, one extra day.  This day happened to be September 11, and, because of the school closings, the add period was actually extended for two more days.

The registrar has compiled statistics for the New Brunswick campus that show that many courses were dropped at the end of the drop period, and, under the extended system, these were available for students to add.  Also, more students and a higher percentage of students were able to register for the courses they selected for the semester.  There was a significant increase in the percentage of students that were able to register for every course requested.  The registrar also reported that the inclusion of the week-end days in the drop period did not lead to complaints.  It should be noted, however, that students can find out ahead of time whether a given section is open or closed using the University Schedule of Classes web-based application; the increased percentage may be due to students that do not attempt to register for sections that are already marked as closed.

We conclude that, for undergraduate courses, the system used in Fall 2001 appears successful, although we have to remember that it was not implemented exactly as planned.  We recommend that the seven-calendar-day drop period and eight-calendar-day add period should be adopted.

The new system does not fit so well with graduate courses, where it has been common for students to be able to drop in the first two weeks of the semester without a W appearing on their transcript.  It is possible for Deans to allow a graduate student to drop without a W after the drop period has ended, and this was done in Fall 2001.  We do not have the numbers of graduate students who dropped in the second week.  While it would be possible to have different drop periods for different level courses, we believe that it would cause confusion and difficulty, as well as being potentially unfair.  We therefore suggest that the university confirm the seven-day drop, eight-day add for all courses, and that Deans use their discretion in individual cases for graduate students.