Gaby Kim ’23 is waiting.
The Spring 2021 course browser is tentatively set to be released tomorrow at 5 p.m. EST — nearly three weeks after the College’s initial release date of Nov. 5., which was delayed to “enable academic departments to re-evaluate their curricula in light of student preferences.” Only a select number of departments, including the English, German and Russian departments, have released their course browser prior to this date.
Kim, an international student from Chile, has yet to find out if the available classes she will need for her pre-med track will be offered remotely or in-person.
“I’m kind of nervous because I’m unsure of how accurate it will be and if it will come out on time,” Kim said. “A lot of my plans I have to make now, and I have to know so that I can make decisions in the future, so that kind of makes me anxious.”
The Spring Intent Form, which allowed students to indicate housing preferences for the spring semester (in-person, remote or a leave of absence), opened on Oct. 9 and closed on Oct. 20. A Spring Intent Change Form amending these changes was initially scheduled for between Nov. 30 and Dec. 4, according to an email sent out by College President Paula A. Johnson in early October, but was instead opened on Nov. 10 and permanently closed on Nov. 13.
For many First-years and sophomores, who are not guaranteed housing in the spring, this deadline came far too early.
“[The College] is designing [the next semester for the] juniors and seniors [who] are coming back. [S]ince the classes [that I’m planning to take are those] that typically underclassmen take, there’s a chance that it all might be online,” Kim said. “If all my classes will be remote, then I might as well stay in Chile.”
Jennifer Shan ’23 did not return to campus for the fall semester, but has plans to return in the spring. As a prospective chemistry major, Shan hopes that in-person classes will give her the opportunity she needs to find her major advisor.
“I didn’t have a chance to get to know my professors [last year], and [remote learning] has made it extremely hard to get to [them],” Shan said. “Right now I really miss in-person classes. It’s not the same experience at all. It’s easy not to go to office hours, not participate — you can just turn off your camera and mute yourself.”
Shan was waitlisted for spring housing and will be informed of her housing status on Dec. 15. However, without a solid idea of what classes she will take next semester, she is still uncertain about her choice to live on campus in the spring.
“Having a course browser would help a lot and make me feel better about coming back to campus, I would feel like I have a more solid reason to come back rather than it all being up in the air,” Shan said. “Pushing back everything … is terrible. You should have some time to know beforehand. It’s so late. Everything got pushed back so late.”
Upperclassmen, too, are anxious to see the spring course offerings. Though they are guaranteed housing and given priority for in-person classes, many have doubts about returning to campus because of reports of isolation and loneliness in students, the ban on off-campus jobs and travel to Boston, and the closure of many on-campus facilities.
After deliberating at home, junior Amin Lee ’22 ultimately decided to continue with another semester of remote learning. However, she now worries that this decision may have been made too hastily.
“I was personally very concerned when the course browser got delayed. First of all, we had to turn in our spring intent before the course browser was even available, let alone us registering and knowing our set schedule,” Lee said.
Lee originally planned to graduate early in May 2021, but is unsure if the pandemic and the College’s in-person/remote term system will disrupt her plans.
“I had no choice on balancing my course workload this semester and I’m very worried that is going to happen again in the spring,” Lee said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do if the course I need in order to graduate with my major and pre-med requirements is only offered in-person, [especially] because of the term system and how limited the course offerings are.”
For now, students are still deliberating between the costs and benefits of returning to campus or staying home.
”I don’t really know if I want my college experience to be purely virtual,” Kim said. “I might actually look into having a class in-person next semester so that I feel like I’m in college, but of course it’s all dependent on the course browser.”