Fall 2017 Enrollments

It’s the first week of classes and time for an update on enrollments. In short, Whitman CS courses are enrolled at full capacity this fall.

Here is a table summarizing current enrollments. Most were reported at our department meeting yesterday; I’ve adjusted mine according to anticipated adds and drops.

Number Title Enrolled Women:Men Waitlist
CS 167-A (8 am) Intro. Computational Problem Solving 30/30 1:1 2
CS 167-B (9 am) Intro. Computational Problem Solving 30/30 3:4 14
CS 200 ST: Simulation Methods & Applications 26/20 1:2
CS/Math 220-A (11 am) Discrete Math & Functional Programming 21/24 1:2
CS/Math 220-B (2:30 pm) Discrete Math & Functional Programming 14/24 1:6
CS 270 Data Structures 25/24 1:5  
CS 310 Computer Systems Programming 25/20 1:5  
CS/Math 339 Operations Research 5 enrolled as a CS course 

Some of these numbers have changed significantly since pre-registration this spring. Some comments:

  • For fall 2016, we added a third section of CS 167 due to a long waiting list of seniors. We did not see that level of demand during pre-registration this spring. It seems two sections are enough. During new student registration on Saturday, the last seat in CS 167 was taken only a few minutes before the last students registered, which is about as perfect a match of supply and demand as you could ask for. I had only one first-year student on my waiting list, although it sounds like Andy has a few more for his 9 a.m. section. While we won’t accommodate every student on the waitlist, the waitlist is not nearly long enough to justify another section considering there will be two more sections in the spring.
  • Next, let’s jump to CS 270, as Data Structures is often considered CS2 to Intro‘s CS1. We place students who have already learned most of the CS 167 material into CS 270. Last fall, we placed only two new students into CS 270. This fall, we placed six new students into CS 270, plus two transfer students. More on this below.
  • I’m frankly thrilled that John’s CS 200, ST: Simulation Methods & Applications, has overenrolled. Assuming John enjoys teaching it, this is a course I’d like to regularize. It is an excellent alternative to CS 270 for science and social science students who want more programming experience but are not interested in the data structures content of CS 270. I am curious about the appeal to humanities and arts students; I think there is potential but it is not as obvious.
  • Through a complicated shuffle in Math department teaching assignments, Albert was able to take my spring section of CS 167, freeing me to teach a second section of CS/Math 220 this fall. In the end, the two sections balanced out not as well as I hoped but better than I feared. We had a little melt just this week, I think mainly due to a clarification that students should not enroll concurrently in CS/Math 220 and Math 260, Introduction to Higher Math, which has significant discrete math content. We may want to add this to the course description.
  • I’m grateful that Andy has allowed CS 310 to overenroll, as there are some students for whom this was the only CS class they could take. In particular, Andy is accommodating some students who haven’t yet taken the CS 210 prerequisite. We are permitting it this fall because our major requirements were only published last spring; hopefully it won’t be necessary in the future.
  • The CS enrollment in CS/Math 339Operations Research, gives me confidence that it was an appropriate course to cross-list. It’s a win-win if Math gains a few students in this course and CS gains a few elective seats.
  • I’m very happy about the balanced gender ratios in the two sections of CS 167. I’m unsurprised by the ratio in CS 310; in fact, it could be worse. I’m pleased to see strong representation of women in CS 200 and CS/Math 220-A. As the instructor, I’m concerned about the very small number of women in CS/Math 220-B, but one of those women has a very strong presence and seems to be taking the other under her wing. I’m most troubled by the gender ratio in CS 270, which is effectively the second course in the major. We are already not seeing as many women as I would like go on from CS 167 to CS 270, whether this is due to a lack of a confidence, a lack of interest, or simply that too many women in CS 167 have already declared other majors. This year’s incoming students have compounded the issue: All but one of the eight transfer and first-year students placed into CS 270 are men. I’m glad there is at least a quorum of women in CS 270, as this does make things a lot more comfortable, but I wish there were greater representation and I’m not sure what to do about it.

Finally, two more CS majors declared at the end of the spring semester, for a total of 16. One is in the class of 2018, one is in the class of 2020, and the remaining 14 are in the class of 2019. I’m anticipating at least one more in the class of 2018, and perhaps 2-3 more in the class of 2019 due to students declaring second majors or changing their anticipated graduation year.

In sum, we have 171 students enrolled in 172 seats (not counting the capstone since we have so few senior CS majors). Although some sections are overenrolled and others are underenrolled, we are operating at capacity. I’m optimistic that the greater number of 300-level offerings this spring will allow the class of 2020 CS bubble, currently enrolled in CS/Math 220, to spread about among several courses. I’m a bit afraid that we will be overextended at the 300-level next year when we have two full classes of CS majors. Beyond that, we can only wait and see.

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