Due to an imbalance in Off-Campus Study (OCS) applications, the College is preparing to accommodate an unusually high number of students on campus next fall.
According to Associate Director of Housing Operations Lisa Rendall, 25 Brunswick Apartment doubles will become triples, two Stowe Inn quads will become quints, three Howard quads will become quints, and all 11 Stowe Hall quads will become quints.
For the late Februrary deadline, 55 more students indicated that they wished to study away in the spring than in the fall. Although OCS originally planned to force a number of students to study away during the fall instead of the spring, they have since recanted.
"We have picked up three volunteers who should be able to make that switch," wrote Director of Off-Campus Study Stephen Hall in an e-mail to the Orient. "Apart from that we will just plan to deal with the projected imbalance...as well as we can."
"The main repercussions will of course be in housing and course enrollments," Hall said.
Hall estimates a 35-student surplus in the fall. As the housing changes will yield 41 new beds, some of them may go unfilled. The changes will directly affect up to 155 students' housing, although Hall's estimate suggests a number closer to 125.
Associate Dean and Director of Residential Life Mary Pat McMahon has faith in the campus' ability to cope.
"We're a small campus, so any shift in numbers is something you can perceive," she said. "But it's still going to be a small campus. We can absolutely manage that number of students—we've done it before."
McMahon made a point of commending the College's enrollment forecasting models, noting that they are ordinarily quite precise, although they failed in this instance. While the reasons for the disparity are unclear, McMahon noted program availability, on-campus commitments, and social life as students'primary considerations when deciding which semester to study away.
Schuyler Ransohoff '11, one of the three students who volunteered to switch from spring to fall, sees the social considerations as the main determining facor to most students.
"It seems to me what happened was, groups of friends got together, they picked a semester, and then they're all going that semester," said Ransohoff. "And nobody wanted to switch because all their friends are not here."
Ransohoff, who plans to study abroad in Madrid, also blames weather, noting that "the spring semester kind of sucks. The fall semester is where it's at."
Kara Wilson '11, who will be studying in Bologna, Italy, was among the students who would have been forced to go abroad in the fall. However, said Wilson, "I feel confident that the recording committee would have reviewed my additional reasons and let me go in the spring."
Wilson chose the spring to be abroad with her twin sister, to be on-campus as the new first-years arrive, to room with a friend going abroad in the spring, to sail in the fall, and to take an Italian Renaissance class.
Additionally, Wilson said, "My family moves back from Italy this summer and it would be difficult to plan a move back to America and plan to go abroad at the same time."
"I do not think forcing people to switch was the right choice. The OCS does not have the authority to influence the lives of students in this way," said Wilson, who credited the College for reversing the original decision.
"The College will continue to look for remedies for the semester imbalance," said Hall. "We already have a number of methods to help us maintain the numbers in the fall and project the eventual OCS enrollment in each semester, but obviously we would like to have less variation from year to year, and we'll be thinking about other possible techniques."
Ransohoff agrees it would have been wrong to restrict OCS opportunities by forcing students to switch, given that "we came to this school under the guise that this school encouraged people to go abroad. It's every person's choice."
Still, he sees some benefits to switching.
"I get to be here for Ivies. I get to—as they say in Off-Campus Study—have a smoother transition to senior year," Ransohoff said.