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Dorms, Dining and Closed Classes

After our various disquisitions on how the administration has fallen behind in maintaining the College’s physical plant, a classmate writes in to point out how difficult it is for today’s students to sign up for and be accepted in the classes that they want:

Students just recently attempted to register for their preferred spring term classes… and many were very disappointed and frustrated that they were closed out of courses they wanted or needed to take.

According to the Registrar’s online Timetable of Class Meetings ( — click subject area, select term/subject areas; list includes FYSs):

  • Out of 41 First Year Seminar offerings, registration for at least 36 was closed because they reached maximum enrollment. Many freshmen who planned to take their FYS this spring were shut out of all preferred and backup choices, leaving them scrambling to find any remaining open seminar that they could somehow fit into their schedule.
  • 11 out of 12 language-requirement-level Spanish classes (Spanish 1, 2, and 3) were closed.
  • 27 GOVT offerings were closed, 17 in SPAN, 14 in ECON, 11 in ENGL, GEOG, SART, and SOCY, 10 in ENGS, 10 in PHIL, 9 in ANTH, WGSS and WRIT, 8 in HIST, 7 in COSC, 7 out of 10 offerings in ENVS, 5 out of 8 in LING, 4 out of 5 in QSS.
  • All three offered sections of Public Speaking were closed.
  • There are also classes of very large size:

EARS 3: 150 (closed)
EARS 1: 150 (closed; 3 other sections closed)
Chem 6: 120 (closed) and 93
Psych 1: 110
Psych 22: 106
Psych 28: 99
ASTR 1: 101
COSC 1: 105
COSC 10: 76
COSC 11: 70
ENGL 34: 101
Financial Accounting: 72 (closed), 73 (closed)
REL 18: 66 (closed)
BIOL 12: 60 (both sections closed at 60)
AMES 12: 60 (closed)
AMES 13: 50 (closed)
LING 1: 60 (closed)
ANTH 3: 60 (closed)
ARTH 4: 50 (closed)
ENGS 21: 64 (closed)
ENGS 20: 50 (closed)
ENGS 22: 50 (closed)
ENGS 24: 51 (closed)
ENGS 25: 42 (closed)
ENGS 31: 49 (closed)
ENGS 44: 49 (closed)
ENVS 12: 47 (closed)
GEOG 1: 50 (closed)
GEOG 5: 40 (closed)
JAPN 1: 50 (closed)
NAS 25 57

Better enrollment management and student body right-sizing, as well as providing incentives to increase enrollment in Summer/Winter, will ease the strain on classrooms and all facilities, make a much broader range of courses and professors more readily accessible (even the most popular) during all terms, decrease average class size, make classes more manageable for professors, increase the quality of the academic experience, and make the much more enjoyable and productive for everyone.

My own experience is that it was unknown to not be able to attend a class. And in talking to hundreds of alums over the years, that was true up until the start of Jim Wright’s presidency in 1999. Today students sign up for three first-choice classes and three second-choice classes, and sometimes they get none of the above. What a shame for the College.

Addendum: A grand old senior writes in:

One department missing in today’s post was Geography, which, notoriously, almost no first-term freshmen can ever take classes in. There’s a distinct issue where first-years interested in the major often can’t take a class in it until two or three terms into their time at Dartmouth, and even then those courses are often either the most esoteric possible or the big intros.

Another frequent subject of student griping is Philosophy, which has (for obvious reasons) very small class sizes and absolutely tons of student interest, meaning that its courses usually fill up quite quickly.

And then there’s Gov, which is one of the nightmares of the Dartmouth experience, in terms of course election, but you covered that one.


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