Placement, Credit, and Registration

Registration and Lottery General Information

First Registration

Pre-registration for 4 courses plus Physical Education will occur online for first-year students on the Friday morning of orientation week. Student Academic Mentors (SAMs) will be available to assist with this simple process in various locations, both in dorms and in advertised computer clusters around campus. Any lotteries necessary to manage access to over-subscribed courses will be conducted immediately after pre-registration closes. Saturday morning students may check their registrations online. Most students will have completed their course registrations at this time. (See more information about lotteries below.)

Some students will have been lotteried out of a choice, and these students should attend the Saturday registration meeting. This follow-up registration for courses will occur in person on Saturday morning, September 1 at 11:00 a.m. in the Science Center. First-year students who have approved registration for four courses need not come. Those students who have been lotteried out of a class or laboratory will come to add an alternate one.

Subsequent registrations

Students register for courses in all other semesters by entering their choices into mySwarthmore during a three-day designated period. Students are required to meet with their academic advisor beforehand during the announced advising period. Since signed forms are not necessary for the computerized procedure, advisors may place holds on a student's ability to register via computer until the student has been in conversation with the advisor. Students may register for no more than 4.5 courses via mySwarthmore. (Students wanting to take additional credits add them during the Add/Drop period.) Lotteries are conducted by departments as necessary after all students have entered their choices. The Registrar's office then informs students when lotteries are over and when they can view the courses into which they have been officially enrolled. Advising sessions with students should include a discussion of alternative choices to courses which may be lotteried. Complete instructions to students — and implicitly to advisors — are on the Registrar's webpage on pre-registration.

Lotteries and how they work

Lotteries are seen as the most equitable way to hold down class sizes and distribute students, particularly in introductory-level courses. Instructions from each department about their lotteried courses and registration procedures are included on the departmental web pages and should be consulted when advising students. Results of these lotteries are available before the Saturday registration.

Lotteries for subsequent registrations are conducted after computer pre-registration and students are notified by the Registrar's Office when lotteries are over. Students should always leave advising sessions for course choosing with back-up alternatives for courses that may be lotteried.

Note that all official instructions for registration appear on the Registrar's website.

Dropping and Adding Courses

Students may add and drop courses without penalty during the first two weeks of the semester. Since reading and writing assignments in Swarthmore courses can build very quickly, however, students should be encouraged to make decisions within the first week, if possible. If students find themselves in the wrong level of a language, for example, this is the time to make an adjustment.

After the first two weeks and up to the end of the ninth week of the semester (on the date specified every year in the College Bulletin), a student can withdraw from a course and receive a permanent letter grade of "W". A student cannot add a course during this period. A course dropped after the ninth week of the semester will result in a student receiving a "No Credit". If a student is in academic difficulty after this point, dropping a course might still be an appropriate choice. The advisor should help the student through a triage process, to see if dropping one course to save the others makes sense.

After the Add or Drop period is over, advisors must sign the “Course Withdrawal Form” in order for the student to do so; the form must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office immediately. Try to observe your office hours and encourage students to plan ahead so this process works smoothly. In an emergency, students can get a signature from the academic dean and should subsequently notify their advisors.

See the Registrar's Add-Drop Procedure webpage for instructions on adding and dropping courses.