At the beginning of each semester, Cornell University has an “add-drop period” (ADP) during which students can swap out the classes they previously enrolled in to take up new openings in other classes. It’s a great opportunity for students to try out multiple classes before committing to any given schedule, and students who really want to take a particular class can snag open seats as less-interested students drop out. However, ADP can also be risky. If you’re not clever about, you can end up accidentally taking on classes you’re not particularly interested in or falling short on credits because the openings you were waiting for never show up.
I personally never risk my schedule with ADP. I try my best to settle my schedule during pre-enrollment, even if I can’t get the exact classes I desire. However, for some people, ADP is the only way to grab a seat in classes required for their major, minors, or concentrations. I also know plenty of students who are wizards at ADP and the system always seems to work out for them.
Unfortunately, because I don’t typically add or drop classes during ADP, I don’t really have any valuable advice about how other students can take advantage of ADP. I can, however, point out some of the most common pitfalls:
- Even if you plan on swapping out your classes during ADP, make sure to grab at least 12 credits-worth of classes during pre-enrollment. You need those credits to be registered as a full-time student–a requirement for many scholarship and financial aid programs whose applications and deadlines might come well before the ADP.
- When swapping out classes during ADP, use the direct swap option. If you don’t, you run the risk of dropping out of one class just to find out that that spot you wanted in your preferred class has already been taken by another student during the time you took to remove the other course. Then, you’ll be short on classes in addition to losing out on your desired class. The direct swap option drops one class while simultaneously enrolling you in another class. This way is much less risky.
- Double-check which course you are dropping or adding before finalizing the switch. Many classes at Cornell University can have similar or confusing titles. For example, if you’re an ILR major and you need to fulfill your statistics requirement, make sure you’re signing up for ILR STATS and not PAM STATS, AEM STATS, MATH STATS, etc.. It will only take a second to double-check, but I’ve seen many students accidentally enroll for the wrong courses and correcting their mistakes gave them great grief.
- If you’re going to switch your classes, do so as early as possible during the semester. The longer you take to decide which classes you want to keep, the farther behind you will fall in work for whatever new classes you enroll in. In addition, you’ll run the risk of being unable to purchase the necessary textbooks and materials for your classes at affordable rates because other students will snag the best options online and at the Cornell Store. The alternative is to do all the work and purchase all the materials for every single class you are considering enrolling in just to be safe, and all of that work can be incredibly stressful to manage.
- Keep track of when the ADP begins and ends. Once it is over, you cannot drop your courses without having a mark on your academic record saying you withdrew from the course. Although such marks are not the end of the world, it surely isn’t flattering to reviewers should you apply for scholarship or graduate study programs. An occasional withdrawal is no crime, but a string of such marks can be a red flag charging you with irresponsibility and flakiness. Those qualities are not ones you want to acquire accidentally. Furthermore, adding classes after the ADP is extremely difficult and almost impossible without the consent of professors and academic advisers, alike. Missing the beginning of the ADP can be equally damaging since you will miss the period when the most drops occur during the whole session and the opportunity to take up the newly opened seats in your favorite classes. Avoid all these dilemmas and keep the ADP clearly marked in your calender and/or agenda book. It will save you a lot of trouble.
- Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can get into any class if you simple wait long enough during the ADP. Some of the most popular classes at Cornell University will have incredibly long wait lists from which the professors will draw on first when students drop their classes during the ADP. That means that that if you did not add those classes during pre-enroll, then it will be highly unlikely that enough students will drop from the course for you to grab a seat. Some other popular courses require consent from the professor or a visit to the department’s academic office in order to enroll, such as several courses in the Performing and Media Arts department. Depending on the ADP will get you no where with these classes; you’re best chance is to contact the office or professor a.s.a.p. to grab a seat or a spot on the wait list. Even then, there is no guarantee that any students will drop out of any of these classes, so make sure you have a back-up plan just in case and prepare yourself better to enroll in the class next semester.
- If you’re trying out several classes during the ADP before committing to a schedule, make sure you attend all of the course’s class session during the first week of the semester. I know a lot of students will have their eye on multiple classes which occur at the same time during the week and will alternate in their attendance of each class to get a feel for both before adding either class. Well, I’m sorry to tell you that a lot of departments and popular courses keep track of students’ attendance during the first few weeks looking for these floating students. If you don’t the first or second class, they remove you from the course to give students on the wait list a chance to enroll.