Being bumped from a class that has hit its enrollment cap is a frustration known all too well by most Bowdoin students. While course registration is a subtle, complex beast, some insights might be gained from the enrollment data published every semester by the Office of the Registrar.
Readers should note that data is currently only available for the Fall 2009 and Spring 2010 semesters, and the Spring 2010 data is somewhat warped by the fact that the add/drop period has not yet ended. This data looks at class sections—that is, each offering of Economics 101 is examined separately, as if they were different courses. Classes that are one or two seats shorts of their gap are counted as "full," to account for last-minute fluctuations that the course market could not fill.
Also note that this data gives no indication of the extent to which courses were oversubscribed; that is, if a class's enrollment is at 35 out of 35 spots, it is impossible to know how many students registered for the class, except that it was at least 35.
The College has offered 704 classes in the past two semesters (352 per semester), of which 248 were filled (124 per semester). Of 19,458 seats (9,729 per semester), 13,604 were filled (6,802 per semester).
The History Department offered the most classes (55), followed by English (51) and Government and Music (48 each). The Government Department filled the most classes (30), followed by Economics (23) and History (22). English came in sixth, filling 19, and Music came in 17th, with only seven classes filled. The Japanese and Greek departments did not fill any of their classes.
Classics filled four of five classes (80 percent), and Archaeology filled three of four (75 percent), yielding percentages that lead all others but belie the departments' very small sizes. Past those two, Visual Arts (73 percent), Government (63 percent), and Spanish (61 percent) led the list by percentage of classes filled.
The top departments by capacity were Music (1,568 seats), History (1,394), and Government (1,376). The largest departments by enrollment were Government (1,216 seats filled), Economics (1,131), and History (1,096); Music came in eighth, with 729.
Leading the College in highest seats-per-class (that is, average class cap) were Chemistry (37 seats), Economics (35), and Anthropology (35). At the opposite end of the spectrum were Latin (17), Visual Arts (17), and Spanish (16).
Economics enrolled the most students per class (30), followed by Chemistry (28) and Biology and Classics (27 each). The Japanese Department enrolled the fewest students per class (5), followed by Greek (6) and Latin (9).
The largest class was Introductory Biology, with 87 students enrolled and a cap of 90. It was followed by Introduction to Environmental Studies (75 of 90) and Introduction to Art History (63 of 75).
Biochemistry, Microbiology, The History of Ancient Greece, Earthquakes and Volcanoes, and World Music Ensemble each went five students above its cap.