Harvard College students had mixed reactions — ranging from support to frustration — to a Faculty of Arts and Sciences proposal that would make changes to course enrollment and grading basis timelines.
The proposal, discussed at a Tuesday FAS meeting, would advance the deadline for enrolling in courses without instructor permission to the second Monday of the semester and the deadline for enrolling with permission to the third Monday. The last day to drop courses would remain the fifth Monday of the semester.
The proposal would also allow students to change their grading basis in a course to pass-fail as late as the eleventh Monday of the semester.
Omar E. Darwish ’26 said the extended pass-fail deadline would be “useful” because it would allow more for students to decide whether a class “is actually worth really trying for.”
“Sometimes you can better allocate your resources and time elsewhere,” Darwish said. “So I think that extending the deadline will actually be pretty helpful.”
Taybah A. Crorie ’25 said while the proposal might be more logistically intensive, she favors a later deadline for adding and dropping courses.
“Other than logistically keeping track of dates being more difficult, I think as long as the drop date is kept later on — or as far back as possible — that’s fine,” she said.
The proposed changes follow students’ first enrollment period since the College switched to prior-term course registration, which required student to select their spring term classes last semester. Prior to the change — implemented after a 2022 FAS vote — students chose their courses in the weeks immediately before the start of each semester. The vote also axed shopping week, which allowed students to sample courses during the first week of classes.
Isabel A. Eddy ’24 said delaying the deadline to change their grading basis in a class would allow students to better project their performance.
“Especially because sometimes in classes where you have limited assignments, you don’t actually know what the assignment or grading is gonna be like until after a couple of weeks have already passed,” Eddy added.
Still, Eddy said, her main concern with registration is prior-term enrollment.
“The past three years were definitely a lot easier than this one. It is a little stressful to try to choose classes in the middle of midterms,” Eddy said.
Duncan O. Glew ’25 said the flexibility in choosing and modifying courses offered by the College was a major reason he applied to Harvard but added that recent changes to registration have curbed that flexibility.
“It feels like a lot of those advantages have rolled back over the years, and that weakens the value proposition for me,” he said.
Darwish said he was less concerned about the proposed changes to the add-drop period.
“Even if they do move the add-drop deadline up, I feel like we already know the classes that we’re sort of gonna be taking,” he said.
Crorie said the prior-term registration model allowed her to be more prepared for the beginning of the Spring semester by contacting professors during the academic year.
“I think especially because professors aren’t receptive to being contacted over winter break, if you register whilst you’re still in school at the end of the fall semester, you can email them,” she said.
Faculty are expected to vote on the proposal in a meeting next month.