Note to new students and their parents: Students are advised in person and register for courses at Swarthmore during Orientation, not ahead of time. Please feel welcome to familiarize yourselves with our web pages about Registration and Requirements, but please wait to ask your questions when you come to campus in August. (We want to help you, but many of us are not available to do so until then.)
First Year Student Advising & Registration occurs during Fall Orientation August 29 to September 3, 2017.
Academic Advice for New Students
Swarthmore has a limited AP credit policy, see more.
Swarthmore does not award Swarthmore degree credit for college level courses done during the high school years (including college level courses done in "early college" programs), see more.
Learn about course planning and registration for new first-year students. Join us during Orientation in the LPAC, 10:30 am, Wednesday.
Learning goals for the Wednesday meeting (and your reading of this web page): Introduce key supports: deans, SAMs, rules, tools and processes. Introduce the vocabulary and methods of advising and registration at Swarthmore, especially the "lottery" system and the "Credit/ No Credit" (CR/NC) semester. Introduce the graduation requirements and recommendations for the first semester and the first year of study.
Dean of First Year Students
Dean of Academic Affairs
New Student Registration at a Glance
Read the Catalog (also called the Bulletin). Two reasons to read the catalog: the catalog is the authoritative book of academic rules, so look there for the academic rules, and especially this week, the catalog is also the list of all the courses that might ever be taught. Use it for course planning.
Also read the Course Schedule, which lists the courses actually being offered this semester.
Regarding your AP test scores (or other test scores) and their placement implications. This week: resolve placement. Next week: sort out credit. See AP/IB credit rules
Keep in mind the Academic Requirements and Advising recommendations (see below).
View the SAMs' Buzzfeed "10 Tips from Deans"
View Dean Anderson's "Rules of Thumb"
Registration is easy! You can do it! Please follow the recommendations on this web page, which has all the answers to all the questions I've ever heard about new student registration.
Advising & Course Selection
Consider your departmental placement test results.
Select and list on the Green form [pdf] 6 to 8 courses (including alternates) you would love to take plus several PE options (knowing you will only take 4 plus PE).
In your course planning, avoid time conflicts -- this is your responsibility. The flip side of the green form can help with this.
Visit the Department Advising Fair 10:00-11:15 am in the Science Center.
Go to your Advisor's Office at 11:15 to make an appointment to meet individually.
By appointment, meet with your Advisor, to plan courses and PE, including alternates for use on Friday, or Saturday or during Drop/Add
Pre-register for your top choices of 4 courses plus PE or PE dance.
Departmental lotteries: For any one department, enter no more than one course that is likely to be lotteried.
Departments lottery any over-subscribed classes and sometimes add or change sections, sometimes shifting students from one section to another.
Patience during lotteries.
Registration Follow-up Meeting
Starts promptly at 11:00 am
If you were lotteried out of a course or otherwise need to make a change, bring the green form to the Saturday meeting, and use an add/drop form as needed to make changes.
Be prompt! The meeting only lasts 30 minutes.
Special, one-time-only paper Add/Drop forms -- collect add signature, tell dropped department.
Paper forms will be available there.
First Class Meeting
You are required to attend the first class or laboratory meeting to confirm your enrollment.
Drop/Add is registration's great safety net.
If needed, see your advisor and use the first week of Drop/Add to explore alternates.
After the Follow-up meeting, adds are done using eforms. Drops use mySwarthmore Registration Drop. More on add-drop.
Course Recommendations for First Year
- Take introductory courses
- Read the "Academic Program" link on departmental webpages to learn about introductory courses
- Lower-numbered courses much more likely to be appropriate for first-year students
- Courses numbered 1-20 are generally introductory
- Courses numbered 21-99 are intermediate or advanced. Some of these courses are not open to first-year students or sophomores.
- Courses numbered 100 or over are normally only for juniors and seniors
- Take a variety of subjects in at least two divisions each semester
- Over the year, take courses all three divisions
- Take at least one writing course per semester
- See why: the cartoon video
- Take at least one PE unit per semester
- Until your PE requirement is done
- The requirement must be completed by the end of the sophomore year
- Take one First-Year Seminar [pdf]
- only available to first-year students
- not required, but highly recommended
- Explore prospective majors
- Try to take 1 course per semester in each subject in which you might major
- Consider an NSEP - a science lab course
- You only need one to graduate, but try to take it in the first year
- Take Four Full Courses plus PE or PE Dance
- Half credit courses are additional to the normal load of four
- Swarthmore uses what we call "lotteries" to manage course enrollment in the few classes that have enrollment limits. Lotteries are not just random. Department policies ensure that students get what they need, even if not their first choice.
- The lottery system makes most pre-registrations equal, regardless of when during pre-registration you register, thus eliminating first-come-first-serve stress. This is true for everything except Astronomy 001 labs, Computer Science 021 labs, Chemistry 010 labs (and 010H labs), Economics 001 sections, and Physics 003 labs, which use "first-come, first-served" to fill the multiple sections (or multiple labs) of their large courses. This is still no reason to stress -- just be prepared to be flexible.
- Departments each have their own different lottery rules and procedures, but in general, students should ...
- Enter only one lottery per department.
- For example, for English Literature First-year Seminars, the department limits students to only one lottery submission per semester.
- Rules for lotteries are not enforced automatically during online pre-registration, but are enforced by departments when they lottery courses (after pre-registration).
- Departments that have specific Lottery Procedures usually list them under the "Courses" section of their departmental home pages. If you can't find them there, please ask the department directly.
- Otherwise, departments use a random lottery.
- Always have good alternates ready and be flexible enough to use them.
- You can't always get your first choice, but as you progress through Swarthmore, you will find that the curriculum is flexible enough that if you remain flexible, you will get what you need.
- Ignore the bad advice -- follow the good advice for the Credit/No Credit (CR/NC) semester
- The bad advice goes along these lines:
- Take an over-load just to get those courses out of the way.
- Take courses you don't want to get them out of the way.
- Take hard courses without having to work hard on them.
- The good advice goes along these lines:
- Always value your time and learn all you can from your courses
- Take an intellectual risk -- try a new subject
- Take the recommended normal load of four courses. They will probably be somewhat harder than you were expecting.
- The CR/NC semester allows you to learn from your courses and also adjust to all the rest of college life without having to worry about getting A grades in all your courses. B grades are okay in the CR/NC semester.
- Work hard in all your courses every semester. If you have trouble, seek out the academic support resources available to improve your success. Many of your first semester courses are preparation or pre-requisite for other courses you will want or need to take. First semester courses deserve your good effort, regardless of the CR/NC semester.
- Keep in mind there will be shadow grades. Make every course count, even in the CR/NC semester.
- The bad advice goes along these lines:
- First semester CR/NC is permanent on your official transcript
- You will have access to your shadow letter grades, but they will never appear on your official transcript.
- More information about grades and shadow grades
More helpful stuff
- Read the Registrar's Recommendations for the First Two Years
- Read the College norm of no credit for college courses done during high school
- including no credit for college level courses done in "early college" programs
New Student Registration in Detail
- Consider your Placement Results
- Mathematics and Statistics introductory courses require placement recommendations in order to pre-register for or take the class.
- Students obtain their Math/Stat placement recommendation on mySwarthmore.
- Other placement results are available from the specific departments
- Mathematics and Statistics introductory courses require placement recommendations in order to pre-register for or take the class.
- Placement versus Credit: before classes start, resolve placement, then after classes start, take up the matter of AP or other credit
- Many departments don't finalize AP credit until January of your first year
- 10:00 am Departmental Advising Fair Thursday
- Visit the Departmental Advising Fair on Thursday morning.
- Obtain departmental information from professors in person.
- 11:15 am Meet and Greet your Advisor
- Meet with your Advisor in a group meeting before lunch
- Make an appointment to meet individually Thursday afternoon.
- Prepare six to eight courses (including alternates) you would like to discuss with your Adviser, plus options for PE or PE Dance, knowing you'll only take four academic courses plus PE or PE Dance.
- The key to happiness during Registration is having alternates at the ready.
- Plan your week with the Weekly Schedule Card
- You are responsible to avoid time conflicts. The computer will not prevent you from registering for a time conflict -- this is your responsibility.
- List all courses of interest, including alternates, on the Green Form [pdf].
- You will get a green one in your packet upon arrival.
- Swarthmore's normal course naming short-hand is Subject & Number, such as "ENGL 009."
- The 5-digit CRN (computer reference number) in the Course Schedule is helpful for computer registration, but is not used in the catalog or during person-to-person discussions.
- Use the Schedule of Courses - online always updated
- The Schedule of Courses PDF available from Academics/Registrar's Office/Course Information/Course Schedule PDF.
- The search engine: TriCollege Course Guide
- Select "Campus=Swarthmore"
- Use Swarthmore's Department names (not Bryn Mawr's or Haverford's department names).
- For example, use "English Literature" (not "English") because the Swarthmore department is called "English Literature"
- Understand mySwarthmore pre-registration
- Understand we use paper drop-add forms at the Saturday "follow-up" meeting
- Understand we use drop-add eforms starting Monday.
Thursday afternoon (or Friday morning): Meet Individually with your Advisor
- Meet with your Academic Advisor, map out your Fall semester. Discuss courses and alternates and PE or PE Dance.
- Select six to eight courses (including alternates) you would like to take, plus options for PE or PE Dance, knowing you'll only take four academic courses plus PE or PE Dance.
- Students who do not get advised can have a "hold" placed on their pre-registration by their Academic Advisor. Students are informed by email of holds being placed, and can check for holds on the mySwarthmore web site. Students who discover they are withheld from pre-registration will probably miss pre-registration and need to register using paper on Saturday, or eforms starting Monday. If you miss pre-registration, you will have missed all lotteries.
- Confirm your access to mySwarthmore. Any problem, ask ITS Client Services, or a friend.
- Pre-register online 11:00 a.m. to noon on Friday. Use the mySwarthmore "registration" web site. Finish early if you can.
- Be prompt. Pre-registration provides equal access to courses and lotteries regardless of when you pre-register with the exception of large Economics and General Chemistry course sections which use "first-come, first-served". Register for these first, but don't rush.
- Students who need to be away from a computer through this time must obtain special approval (and the handout of instructions on how to get registered) from their coach or a dean.
- Keep in mind that rules for lotteries are not enforced online, but will be enforced by departments. Read departmental web sites for lottery rules information.
- If you miss pre-registration, you can still attend the Saturday Registration Follow-up meeting, but you will have missed all the lotteries. All departmental lotteries will be run off pre-registration.
- Where to pre-register? Options include your dorm room, dorm computer clusters, or McCabe computer clusters. Help will be available at McCabe and many dorm computer clusters. Ask for help from a CA, a SAM (in a dorm), or a Public Area Consultant (at the library).
- Pre-register for the 4 academic courses plus PE (or PE Dance) that you actually plan to take.
- The Pre-Registration Limit of 4.5 credits gets lifted for drop/add. The 4.5 credit limit during pre-registration is to ensure that every student has a fair chance at 4 courses. (Language courses are usually 1.5 credits.)
- PE or PE Dance does not count in the 4.5 credit limit. Register for PE or PE Dance on top of your 4 academic courses.
- One at a time or both parts at a time: Add or drop one course, one lecture-and-lab combination, or one language-and-drill combination at a time. Most science courses have associated lectures and labs; most language courses have associated language and drill sections -- for these, add or drop both associated parts at the same time. For most other courses, add or drop one course at a time.
Special instructions for the following subjects
Enroll for Biology 001 lecture AND your first choice laboratory section during web-registration on Friday. If the enrollment in any laboratory section exceeds 24 students, a random lottery will be held only for the over-enrolled laboratory sections. Lottery results will be posted by 6:00 PM outside the Introductory Biology Laboratory (SC 204) and outside the Biology department office (Martin 201). Students who are lotteried out of an over-enrolled lab section will be placed on the waiting list for that section. First-year students who are on the waiting list for an over-enrolled laboratory section are encouraged to enroll *in person* in any other unfilled laboratory section at the Biology table at the follow-up registration meeting Saturday at 11 am, where sections will be filled on a *first-come, first-served* basis. Laboratory sections will meet during the first week of classes.
Students interested in applying for BIOL 001SP (meets MW 1:15-2:30) need to enroll in BIOL 001 AND a BIOL 001 lab section and fill out the application due at noon on Friday and submit it by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Biology 001 lab section should not conflict with BIOL 001SP meeting times.
You will need to register for the CHEM 010/010.HN course and a lab section that fits into your schedule. When adding these on mySwarthmore they must be added together. CHEM 010 and 010.HN share the CHEM 010 labs.
Registration for labs will be "first come, first serve" so be advised to register early. Web-registration lab section assignments are tentative, students who will need to resolve conflicts with their lab assignment should come to the Chemistry/Biochemistry table at the follow-up registration meeting Saturday at 11 am.
Registration for CPSC 021 course and labs will be "first come, first serve" so be advised to register early. Web-registration assignments are tentative, please review the information regarding being lotteried out of Computer Science classes: https://www.cs.swarthmore.edu/courses/lottery.html
Registration for PHYS 003 and ASTR 001 labs will be "first come, first serve" so be advised to register early. Web-registration assignments are tentative, students who will need to resolve conflicts with their lab assignment should contact the Physics/Astronomy dept during add/drop.
Prerequisites: Students must be sure that they have fulfilled any pre-requisites for courses they wish to take, or obtained the permission of the instructor.
Auditing: New students should NOT audit in their first semester. See the catalog for other rules on auditing.
Music 48: Sign up for Music 48 at the Music Department after classes start (not on the Green form or an Add form).
Friday afternoon after pre-registration: Patience during Lotteries
- Departments "lottery" over-enrolled class lists after pre-registration. Most are done Friday evening by 8:00 pm, some Saturday morning, and rarely one or two might happen after the Saturday follow-up meeting.
Don't be late!
- Most lotteries are completely finished by Saturday at 10:00 a.m. After that time, you should consider registrations in mySwarthmore approved.
- Keep in mind that classes and labs with supplemental registration may be late in announcing their lottery results, perhaps even doing so after the Saturday meeting.
- The Saturday meeting is designed for students who did not get into 4 courses, but is available for any student who wants to attend to make a change.
- If you do not need to go to the Saturday meeting, your Green Form can be discarded.
- The Registration Meeting starts at 11:00 am and finishes quickly!
- SAMs will be there to help. Thank you SAMs!
- Look for Open First-year Seminars [pdf] list (online and on paper at the meeting). On Saturday the list will show which first-year seminars have openings after lotteries.
- To Add a course, use a paper Add/Drop form -- available at the meeting -- to obtain instructor signature. First add any Computer Science or Economics courses, as some sections fill on a first come first served basis.
- To Drop a course, indicate it on the paper Add/Drop form. Blank forms will be available at the meeting.
- Hand in the paper Add/Drop forms at the Registrar's table.
Saturday, Sunday, Monday...
- You are required to attend the first class or laboratory meeting to confirm your enrollment. All classes and laboratories meet the first week of classes. Contact the professor directly to ask that your seat be held if you can't make the first meeting.
- Buy your books at the Bookstore.
- If you haven't done so yet, set up your Moodle account (linked from the Dash). Moodle is Swarthmore's course management systems, and are used by many courses to post syllabi, homework assignments, discussions, etc.
- In the first week of classes, you are encouraged to check classes you were lotteried out of to see if seats have since become available.
- Some course "shadowing" may be appropriate in the first week of classes, but not in the second, when most classes are well underway. Shadowing is attending a class of interest for which you are not registered. If space opens, ask to add the class.
- Look again for the "Open First-Year Seminars" [pdf] list, showing which first-year seminars have openings and how many, this time after the Saturday meeting.
- Remember that the liberal arts experience includes serendipitous discovery. Be open to it.
- Full Time Enrollment Required: All students must register for at least 4.0 credits per semester, unless they have obtained special permission to do otherwise.
- Read the Guidelines on Scheduling Conflicts Between Academics and Athletics.
- If you need to drop or add, use mySwarthmore "registration" drop to drop, and "eforms" online form to add. More about drop/add.
Caution about Credits and Grades
... including Shadow Grades
- Normal progress is four semester course credits per semester, plus PE until PE is done. Students that do not manage to complete and pass at straight C or better at least three credits per semester will have their records reviewed by the Committee on Academic Requirements and could be required to take an academic leave. Note that INC grades, Withdraw grades, or shadow grades of less than straight C do not satisfy this minimum expectation.
- Students should also be mindful to maintain satisfactory progress toward fulfilling their degree. Normal progress is four semester course credits per semester. Over the semesters, at a minimum, students should earn 6 to 8 credits by the end of the first year, 14 to 16 credits by the end of the sophomore year, and 22 to 24 credits by the end of the junior year. Students not achieving satisfactory progress will have their records reviewed by the Committee on Academic Requirements and could be required to take an academic leave.
Students who have not satisfied their financial obligations will not be permitted to attend classes, live in campus housing, have a meal plan, register via add/drop (or any other method) for any classes, enroll for the following semester, participate in the room lottery, obtain a transcript, or be permitted to be graduated.