Pre-registration FAQ and suggestions in support of student learning (November 13, 2020)

[Summary: This message encourages faculty to support students in their learning by (a) providing midterm feedback; (b) streamlining the application process for limited-enrollment courses for the spring semester; and (c) planning courses around spring semester break days. Updated FAQs regarding the Spring 2021 pre-registration process have been published on the FAS Dean’s Office website.]

To: FAS Faculty and other faculty currently teaching in Yale College

Cc: FAS Steering, FAS Dean’s Office, FAS Lead Administrators, Operations Managers, Chair Assistants, and Registrars

Dear colleagues, 

We recognize that it has been an exhausting semester for faculty, staff, and students alike. With this in mind, and in the spirit of our guiding principles of community care, we write to share feedback from our undergraduates on how instructors might mitigate some sources of student stress regarding courses this semester and next. Three specific suggestions can be found below: 

Students have indicated that having a good understanding of their grade and standing in a course prior to the final weeks of term can alleviate uncertainty.

If you have not already provided midterm feedback to students, we encourage you to do so. While always important, providing consistent feedback is particularly important during this period of added stress and anxiety.  

If your Spring 2021 course is a limited-enrollment course, please be mindful of the competing pressures students are facing as you design the application process.

As you know from last week’s memo on pre-registration, undergraduates must submit their course schedules in December. (This will allow faculty, staff, and students to have a true break between terms.) This schedule means that students will be applying to multiple limited-enrollment courses during Reading Period, when they are also preparing for exams and completing final projects.  

We therefore encourage you to make the application process as simple as possible. For many instructors, requesting basic information from an interested student—such as class year, major, previous courses taken—provides enough information to prioritize admission decisions. If a statement of interest is important, we suggest a word limit of 100 words, and to help students prepare in advance, we ask that you describe your application process in your Expanded Course Description as soon as possible.  Whatever process you use, it is important to adhere to the same timeline Yale College announced to students: an application deadline of December 9, with students informed of their status no later than December 14. 

Break days are scheduled throughout the spring term; please plan your courses accordingly.

As announced last month, the traditional spring semester break will be replaced by a set of five non-contiguous break days on which no class meetings will be held. In addition, we ask that you avoid scheduling major assignments and assessments on break days or on the days after break days so that students may use them to take a true break from their course work. We realize that this will require changes to certain ordinary practices; we are grateful for your flexibility in these unprecedented times.  

The pairs of break days and post-break days for Spring 2021 are as follows: 

  • February 22 and 23 (fourth Monday (break day)/Tuesday (post break day)) 
  • March 9 and 10 (sixth Tuesday (break day)/Wednesday (post break day)) 
  • March 24 and 25 (eighth Wednesday (break day)/Thursday (post break day)) 
  • April 8 and 9 (tenth Thursday (break day)/Friday (post break day)) 
  • April 23 (twelfth Friday (break day)) 

FAQs about spring registration

Finally, we wish to alert you that a new set of FAQs has been added to the FAQ list hosted on the FAS Dean’s Office website. These provide additional information about each stage of the course enrollment process for Spring 2021 and the implications and expectations for instructors, as well as for department and program administrators. The information will be updated as needed. 

Thank you for your hard work, your compassion, and your creativity. This has been a challenging semester for all, and we are grateful for all that you do for Yale and for our students. 


Tamar and Marvin

Tamar Szabó Gendler
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Sciences