Caveat Eager Beaver

Way back in June, one of my blog posts was an in-depth analysis of exactly how people are assigned to their first-year sections—a subject chosen mostly because nothing screams “satisfied readership!” like a detailed analysis of the inner workings of a registrar’s office. At the end of that post, I noted: “The fun really kicks in when . . . an incoming student will withdraw at the last minute, or need to defer. The shifting commences.”

That may have been a little elliptical, but the underlying point was that after we initially divide people up into sections, we often need to move them around, and nothing is set in stone until registration actually occurs. But you know how people say not to believe everything that’s on Wikipedia? Well, I pretty much do believe it all. And by the same token, we’ve received a few e-mails lately indicating that incoming students who have figured out where to find their tentative section assignments on Wolverine Access are also putting undue faith in online resources.

The problem is this: we have to “enroll” people in their tentative sections so that financial aid can be disbursed. (I believe “enrolling” is a technical computer process that involves “pushing a button.”) Once we do the “enrolling,” the University computer system uploads the section assignments to Wolverine Access. Now, we may tell people in various places and in various ways that they ought not to rely on those section assignments (we make the point, for example, in our admitted students FAQ: “ You may see a ‘section assignment’ on your Wolverine Access account. Please be aware that those assignments are tentative and can change at any time up until orientation when official assignments are given out.”), but if I can’t be convinced that Wikipedia is sometimes wrong, why should our students be any more likely to believe that Wolverine Access might be wrong?

And yet—it might be. Or at least, it might be right now, but wrong in the future. At the end of last week, two would-be incoming fall starters asked to defer for a year (one for a personal emergency, one for a golden opportunity that fell into her lap). And I have a phone appointment with someone tomorrow, and from the tone of the e-mail, I think another deferral request will be forthcoming. So it’s quite possible that at least three people will be getting shifted to some new section. Or maybe not. Maybe the three deferrals will all come from three different sections, making everything work out beautifully. But a word to the wise: if you’re an eager beaver who has already bought your textbooks, don’t go highlighting in them! That’s good advice for more than one reason—you have three years of highlighting ahead of you! There’s no rush!—but the highlighting definitely makes it impossible to get cash back.

-Dean Z. Assistant Dean for Admissions and Special Counsel for Professional Strategies