Take an ExCo

Who Is Allowed to Take an ExCo?

Just about anyone! We welcome Oberlin college students, faculty, and staff to participate in our course, and extend a special welcome to community members and high school students who are interested in taking advantage of this unique program! ExCo courses generally hold they same standards and requirements of all students, regardless of whether you’re taking the course for college credit. This means that, while all are welcome, we do ask that you be respectful of your instructor, fellow classmates, and the greater ExCo program.

Please keep in mind that your attendance and participation is part of what creates a strong class community, and skipping class will not only affect your own learning, but will be detrimental to the overall environment of the classroom. With that in mind, please only commit yourself to a course that you are confident you will stick with throughout the semester.


Okay, What Course Should I Take?

Good question! We have a unique offering of courses each semester, so if you don’t see something you’re looking for, chances are it might be taught the following semester (you can email exco@oberlin.edu and we’ll look into when the course is next planned to be taught). Each semester we have a selection of classes that have been taught before, some of them dating back several decades, and a group of brand-new courses. Most courses are taught by current Oberlin students, but a handful are taught by community members, faculty and staff of the college, and recent Oberlin alumni. You might already have a specific course in mind, but we still encourage you to check out our course catalogue, linked below. The catalogue provides the list of courses, a brief description of the course, the names of the instructors, and the best email address to use to contact them. If you have questions about a specific course, we highly recommend you direct such questions to the instructor(s) of that course. If you have a questions about ExCos in general, feel free to email the ExCo Committee at exco@oberlin.edu.

Another great way to get a feel for what courses are being offered, and to talk directly with the instructors, is to attend the ExCo Fair! The ExCo Fair takes place on the Wednesday evening of the first week of classes each semester. We know that this is super early in the semester, but we need it to be sufficiently before the end of Add/Drop, so as to provide students an opportunity to properly evaluate what ExCos they want to take before committing them to their transcripts.

The Spring 2018 Fair will take place in the Root Room (2nd floor of Carnegie), from 6:30-9:00pm. Please note that, as will past semesters, the first half hour of the fair, from 6:30-7:00pm, is reserved as a quiet environment for those who have previously found the fair to be overwhelming and inaccessible. We implore you to only enter the Root Room during this time if you feel that the main time of the fair, from 7:00-9:00pm, would be absolutely inaccessible for you. If you do decide to take advantage of the reserved time, please be mindful of the noise you make, and encourage those around you to do the same. Note that there will likely be a member of the ExCo Committee standing at the entrance during this time, reminding people of the purpose of the space and the necessity for lowered voices and respectful behavior.

For those unable to attend the ExCo Fair, worry not! Information about the courses can be found on the course catalog below, and you can always email the instructor(s) with specific questions.

Spring 2018 ExCo Course Catalog


How the Application Process Works

Now that you’ve chosen the course(s) you want to apply for, it’s time to navigate the somewhat complicated application process. Most courses currently use an online application system (such as Google Forms) to get a sense of which students are interested in taking their course and to choose whom they accept based on the community they are trying to create in their classroom. Please note that this application process can be highly “competitive,” with some instructors receiving well over ten times the number of applicants as they have room to accept.

We’ve tried to compile links to all the application forms, but you can also directly email the instructor(s) of the course you are interested in and they will send you the application. If you email them and do not hear back, contact exco@oberlin.edu and we will reach out on your behalf. For the application links on our website, go to our Apply for an ExCo page.

Please note that we ask all prospective students to apply for the course, including community members, high school students, and faculty and staff. Each course has a capacity limit determined in joint by the instructors and the ExCo Committee. This limit applies to all students in the class, regardless of the number that are officially registered on Presto.


I Was Accepted Into My ExCo! Now What?

Mazel tov! If you are a community member, high school students, or a member of the faculty or staff of Oberlin, you don’t have to worry about registering for the course, so feel free to skip over this next part. If you’re an Oberlin student, you have the option to register for your ExCo and have it show up on your transcript. Up to eight credits of co-curricular courses (ExCo, Athletics, LEAD, PAL, etc) can be counted toward graduation. Most ExCos are either 1 credit courses or 2 credit courses, with a select few that allow the student to choose whether they want to take it for 1 or 2 credits.


I Want To Take My ExCo For Credit

To enroll in your ExCo, you first must be consented into the class by the instructor(s). This involves the instructor using their Presto authority to consent you (and whichever other Oberlin students have been accepted into the class) into the course. Once they do so, you should receive an email from your instructor(s) letting you know that you can log onto your Presto account and add the course the same way you would any other course during the Add/Drop period.

Like any other course, you look up the department in the “Look Up Classes” tab, click on “Experimental College,” then “Course Search,” and then scroll down till you find your class. There will be two sections listed for your class, one of which has a “C” next to is. The “C” one is for your instructors, so you should use the CRN from the other section as the course your add via the Add/Drop tool. As with all other courses, no ExCos can be added or dropped after the Add/Drop deadline has passed (usually the second Wednesday or Thursday of the semester). ExCo also uses the same Withdrawal deadline as the rest of semester-long courses. The Pass/No Pass deadline is not relevant, since all ExCo classes are taught exclusively for Pass/No Pass credit (Pass ≥ 70%).

If you have any difficulties registering for your course, please contact your instructor(s) to make sure they properly consented you into the class, or email Jessica Lear from the Registrar’s Office at jlear@oberlin.edu. Jessica is super awesome and helpful and has year of experience navigating the Presto system and helping students do the same.


I Don’t Want To Take My ExCo For Credit

That’s totally understandable! Many Oberlin students find that they do not have room in their schedules to add in any ExCo credits (but keep in mind that it’s really easy to overload if you’re just adding an ExCo!). For those who want to join an ExCo but not add it to your transcript, we ask that once you receive the email from your instructor(s) stating that you’ve been consented into the course, please respond letting them know that you will not be registering for credit but are still interested in sitting in on the course. This way the instructor(s) can hold your place in the class list before contacting students on a waitlist.

Please keep in mind that all students are held to the same standards, regardless of whether the course is listed on their transcript. Students sitting in on the course are still expected to show up to class, participate, do the assignments, and be respectful of their classmates and instructor(s). We understand that the lack of a grade on your official transcript makes it harder for instructors to hold you accountable, but the integrity you demonstrate in your ExCo course is part of what has helped this program survive 50 years. We aren’t always taken seriously by other departments on campus or by various branches of the administration, and the continued participation and dedication of all ExCo students plays a significant role in establishing ourselves as a student organization and college program that is worth taking seriously.


Contact the ExCo Committee

Should you have questions or concerns regarding any of the above information, please reach out to the ExCo Committee at exco@oberlin.edu, or stop by our office hours to talk with a member of the Committee during office hours (see side panel to the right).