UF class swap a semester's student ritual

Published: Thursday, January 12, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 12, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
Fifteen years ago Rob French would've had to wait in a line all day to register for classes at the University of Florida.
In 2006, nearly all class registration is done through the Internet, but there's still a line. Students like French must now wait online all day to get the classes they want.
The first four days of the semester, many of the approximately 48,000 students at UF add, horde and drop classes as if it were a 96-hour swap meet held online through the university's Web site.
Tonight at 11:59, the swap meet ends and just as when the ringing of the bell signifies the close of the stock market, the class trading will be final. Students will then have to not only pay for dropped classes but will receive a "W," meaning "withdraw" on their transcripts.
The massive class swap meet at the beginning of each semester is what many students depend on.
French, a 31-year-old English major and senior at UF, said he hasn't been able to get the early jump on classes since coming to UF as a transfer student more than a year ago.
"No matter how early I try and register, I always seem to end up being beaten to the classes I want," French said, referring to how quickly other students snag up classes once they're able to register. "What I figured out is classes seem to stay locked up (or full) from the time we're able to register till the first day of the semester."
French now finds it beneficial to stay out of the initial grab for classes. He now waits until the semester begins for the four-day class swap meet.
Monday, the first day of the spring semester, French woke up early and stayed online all day. As other students dropped classes, he picked them up. Throughout the day, he added and dropped classes until he finally got his ideal 15-credit schedule.
"This is the first time I've gotten all the classes I've wanted," French said. "It just makes your experience better when you take classes you're interested in. Otherwise it can feel real factory-like when you're just taking classes because you need them for a degree."
Rick Ragan, the UF assistant registrar, says the system isn't perfect but they're always trying to improve it. One of the biggest problems the Office of the Registrar has is finding enough space for the huge quantity of students at UF.
"The problem is most students don't want the early classes. Everybody wants the classes from the fifth period to the ninth period (11:45 a.m. through 4:55 p.m.)."
"We just can't fit that many people on campus during those times," he said.
French's earliest class begins at 8:30 a.m. It's a class he's been wanting to take since coming to UF. "If it's a class I want," he said, "I don't mind getting up early."

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