Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Course Selection

We select courses here in one fell swoop for the whole year -- fall, winter, and spring, all together, during the previous spring. The reason they do that is because some popular 2L/3L classes (Constitutional Law, Corporations, Evidence, etc) have options in the fall and in the spring, and if we didn't register all at once then you'd have to end up taking a chance on whether you'd get something better in the spring than in the fall if you want to take one of those classes, and it would end up being kind of a pain. Although the current system has its downsides, like who can imagine what they'll want to be taking a year from now.

In any event, they sent us an e-mail asking us to take a short (very short -- one yes/no question) survey about whether we like the current policy. I'm trying to be more informative and interesting here than funny. Just thought I'd post some selected pieces of the e-mail:

Re: Course Registration Procedures Poll

...The question for further consideration is whether the General Lottery should [ ] remain as a year-long lottery, or whether there should be two General Lotteries, one in the spring for the following fall and winter, and the second in the fall, before Thanksgiving, to cover the following spring.

In our view, there are three principal reasons for considering changing to the two-General-Lottery system. First, some students find that their interests change as a result of their summer experiences. While new interests can be accommodated through the present drop/add system, a chance to register for the spring semester from the ground up might better fit new interests, and give students a better chance of getting into popular courses they now discover they want to take. Second, the same point can be made about new interests that develop during fall term course work. Finally, and more generally, it requires a fair amount of foresight to choose courses in April that will meet one's requirements starting the following February....

But the Committee also sees some advantages to the present system. First, for students who do know in April what is of special interest to them, year-long selection allows them to be sure from the beginning of the year that they can count on a place in a course which is of special significance to them - for instance, a place in a spring semester seminar on a subject about which they wish to write a third-year paper. Second, even in the General Lottery there are many courses that are often offered both fall and spring (perhaps even fall, winter and spring) such as administrative law, evidence, federal courts, secured transactions, and securities regulation. Semester-by-semester choosing will sometimes put students in a hard spot: uncertain as to whether to wait until the lottery for the spring to try to take a course they may not get, when they could have taken a different section of the course in the fall. Third, by distributing lottery selections over a whole years' courses, the present system makes each student's very first choice (or two) for the year more likely to be satisfied. Finally, although April is a long way from the following February, it is for many students a less hectic time than late October or early November, when concerns about job interviewing may make it harder to focus on selecting courses.

As you can see, the question is one of weighing advantages and disadvantages. We would like your advice on which case is stronger. It only takes a couple of clicks.
I voted to keep the system as is, because I thought the disadvantages of splitting it up outweighted the advantages -- I don't mind picking in advance and like the security of knowing what I have and not having to take risks on courses offered both semesters. But it's interesting that they're soliciting our input. Appreciated, I think. Cool. Nothing much funny to say about this stuff, unfortunately.