July 10, 2020

Dear department chairs, directors of undergraduate studies, and directors of graduate studies,

We write to provide additional information regarding plans for undergraduate students to preregister for their fall term courses, as previously announced in our message to all FAS and GSAS faculty on June 18, and to ask for your assistance in supporting efforts to make that process run as smoothly as possible.

In our previous announcement, we explained that students will be expected to submit a preliminary course schedule for the fall term by August 21, ten days before classes begin, on August 31. Although undergraduate students will have the opportunity to drop and add classes through the end of the first week of classes (Friday, September 4), we believe that this timeline will allow for better course planning, especially concerning the allocation of teaching fellows. (Graduate students will have until the second week of classes (Friday, September 11) to finalize their course schedules.) To make this new timeline possible, however, we need the cooperation of instructors and department administrators to provide needed information to undergraduate students in the weeks leading up to August 21, especially regarding the following important dates:

  • Late July: Administration of placement exams and completion of placement surveys
  • August 6: Relevant placement information provided to students
  • August 7: Expanded course descriptions available in Canvas for fall 2020 courses
  • August 7-12: Students submit preferences for limited-enrollment courses
  • August 17: Students informed of admission to limited-enrollment courses 

Placement information. We ask departments that have placement procedures to inform students of their placement by no later than August 6. Students have been informed of the July 31 deadline for them to complete any placement tests and to complete the High School Math & Science Survey. Departments that use this survey should have the results on Monday, August 3.

Expanded course information. In our June 18 announcement, we asked instructors to provide an expanded course description, if not a complete syllabus, on the Canvas site for their courses by August 7. Canvas sites for all fall-term courses should be available for instructor access by mid-July, and the “Syllabus” page will be preloaded with a template for instructors to enter basic course information. There will also be an opportunity for an instructor to upload a brief (2-3 minute) video introduction to the course, if desired, and a place to upload a full syllabus, if available. Additional information about completing these templates will be sent to instructors when the Canvas sites open.

Students submit preferences to limited-enrollment courses. From August 7 to August 12, students will have the opportunity to indicate their interest in limited-enrollment courses, such as seminars, labs, and capped lecture courses. We ask that departments or individual instructors inform students of their admission to these courses by August 17. Many departments have their own preregistration processes for seminars and labs or use the “preference selection” tool supplied by the Registrar’s Office, and we expect you to be able to use these same systems. For departments that do not currently have a selection process in place for limited-enrollment courses, but wish to establish one, information about different options will be provided in the coming weeks. For now, it is important for you and your faculty colleagues to know the timeline and to identify courses that might have higher enrollment demand than available seats or teaching fellows. For courses in which there is no concern about over-enrollment, no selection process will be necessary.

* * *

Departmental advising. We understand that you and your colleagues will want to provide advice to students about course selection for the fall term, particularly to incoming first-year students and your major, and we ask you to consider the following opportunities:

  • Information published online. Without the typical in-person advising sessions at the beginning of the academic year, the Yale College Dean’s Office will make extra efforts to direct incoming students to published information online. We therefore ask you to take a moment to review the information in the undergraduate section of your department website and in the “First Year” tab of your program’s listing in the Yale College Programs of Study to ensure the accuracy of this information for incoming students. (If you need to make any changes to your listing in the YCPS, please send them to Beth Baumgartel, beth.baumgartel@yale.edu.) 
  • Virtual advising sessions. The dean’s office is also working on plans to schedule “Virtual Academic Fairs” over several days—likely between August 10 and 20—to replicate the in-person gathering that typically takes place the day before classes begin. Departments and programs will be asked to schedule at least one recorded Zoom session during these fairs, with several dates from which to choose. An invitation to schedule a session will soon follow from the Office of First-Year Affairs. We also know that the DUS and other departmental advisers will want to hold virtual office hours for your majors in the weeks leading up to August 21. We ask that you please post these office hours clearly on your department website and, to the extent possible, vary the times of day to accommodate students in different time zones.

We remain very, very grateful for your service and leadership of your department or program in these unusual times, and we are mindful that moving these processes earlier into August will inevitably have the effect of shortening the summer after a long and challenging academic year. We are sorry that we have to call on you in this way. But we hope that these measures will significantly ease course planning for departments and instructors and will improve the educational experience of our students.

With thanks and good wishes,

Marvin Chun, Lynn Cooley, and Tamar Gendler
Dean of Yale College, Dean of the Graduate School, and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences