Staff Editorial: Tight fit

Overcrowded classrooms outrage many at GW, including faculty and parents. But with so many extra freshmen and a system that allows professors to over-enroll their courses, space shortages are inevitable. Administrators have taken appropriate steps to keep up with the overcrowding, but without more reform this unacceptable situation will continue.

The majority of problems relating to overcrowded classrooms comes with classes typically filled with freshmen and some sophomores. Upperclassmen pursuing their majors register earlier for classes that are generally occupied with other students with the same major. The pool of people trying to get into an upper-level class is smaller, whereas everyone must take introductory courses to satisfy curriculum requirements causing a bottleneck that leads to closed and overflowing classes.

But freshmen have the most flexibility in their scheduling requirements. They can take any class to fill any requirement. The idea that freshmen have to take a certain class is one perpetuated by ill-informed parents, advisers and even other students. Freshmen need to relax, take what they can get and stop attempting to be signed into already full classes.

One main problem that contributes to panicky freshmen jamming already crowded classes is advising during Colonial Inauguration. For Columbian College students especially, the advising process is less than ideal. This is not to say that those who show incoming students how to schedule classes do not work hard or do the best they can, but there are just too many Columbian College freshmen to give everyone the attention they need. Long wait times and high student-to-adviser ratios illustrate the problem.

But some changes have helped. Limiting the number of seats open for each CI and hiring almost 30 new instructors of varying ranks allowed academic officials to open new course sections.

Still, GW should end or severely restrict the practice of professors signing students into already-closed courses. Employing waiting lists using the computerized registration system would make the process automatic – professors would not be able to accidentally over-enroll. Even preventing students from signing in until after classes start would help. At least professors would have some idea of how full the class is before allowing more students to squeeze in.

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