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Ithaca, NY - At Cornell, pre-enrollment is organized chaos. The courses that one registers for in haste are rarely identical to the courses that prove sensible and relevant – only if lucky, months later, can one connive himself into the right classes.

The elements of confusion and indecision in the process of crafting a schedule are not easily mitigated. Those students who dare to be adventurous with course selections are resigned to the unreliability of choosing a course with little information about its structure or content… but this turmoil is no more, thanks to Cornell’s Student Assembly. The SA has recently addressed this timeworn issue with its resolution recommending that faculty post course syllabi online to supplement the brief course descriptions. Gabe Kaufman, former Chairman of the Academic Policy Committee, predicts that this change will likely streamline the enrollment process each semester, with professors enjoying the chance to elaborate on their courses and students enjoying the ability to make informed decisions about their schedules.

Also crucial to this effort is Joseph Fridman, Class of 2017, who initiated this effort in the 2014-15 academic year. With the support of the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, an improved version of the online Course Roster that includes course syllabi was released on June 16. Professors have already uploaded over 200 syllabi into the database. Faculty, staff, and students from Student Services Information Technology, the Office of the University Registrar, and the Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education came together to test the updated Course Roster during the 2016-17 academic year.

Provost Michael Kotlikoff, who approved this project, has ensured that the syllabi upload remains optional. The resolution simply advises that professors share either current or dated syllabi whenever reasonable and useful to the pre-enrollment process. This resolution also protects the intellectual property of professors. Students will engage with this enhanced enrollment process, which may even defeat the curse of the waiting-list as students pursue subjects and course policies that directly align with their interests and needs.


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