Friday, January 16, 2009

Why We Care About Schedule Changes--And Why You Should, Too

Each year around this time--just after we've posted first-deadline decisions--we start hearing from students who want to change their senior schedules.

We completely understand why students who’ve just been admitted to Carolina may want to celebrate by lightening their load. But we think that these schedule changes are generally a bad idea, for three reasons.

First—if you’ll excuse the analogy—getting ready for college is very much like getting ready for the Olympics: if you want to do your best, you have to keep training. If Michael Phelps had stopped swimming eight months before Beijing, he probably would have still made it to the end of the pool. But he’d also probably be eight medals shy of where he is today.

Second, changing schedules after you’ve been admitted isn’t fair to the 8,807 students who haven’t been admitted. When we read applications, strength of curriculum weighs heavily in our decisions. When admitted students decide to drop a course or two, they undermine one of the main reasons why we offered them admission in the first place.

Which leads to Third: when admitted students change their schedules without first receiving permission from us, they run the risk of having their admission revoked.

Not all schedule changes are equal. Shifting from Basketweaving to Knitting is one thing; dropping AP Calculus is another. Regardless, students who’ve been admitted, or students who have an application that we’re still considering, need to write to us before they make the change, so that we can help them sort out the possible consequences.

If you’re considering changing your schedule for the upcoming semester, please email us at Include your original schedule, what you’re adding/dropping, and a brief explanation for the change. We promise to get back to you within two business days.

--Stephen Farmer