The horrors of prescheduling

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By Sasha Zuflacht

It’s week six. When did this happen? It’s hard to believe winter term is halfway over. Many of us have just finished midterms and deserve some time to relax. It’s been a stressful term; never-ending piles of homework and seemingly endless amounts of snow. So, what keeps us optimistic?

I think, for most, it’s the idea that spring term is just around the corner. This term is notorious at Union College for a million reasons, most of which shouldn’t be mentioned. It’s refreshing to step out and be immersed in a picturesque campus. We may be in the middle of Schenectady, but for a few moments you forget that and embrace the beauty—that is until the infamous Schenectady symphony of sirens decides to butt in.

Unfortunately, four more weeks of classes and a week of exams separate us from the highly-anticipated spring term. Adding to these stressors, there is another moment we all seem to dread: pre-scheduling for classes.

For seniors, and most juniors, pre-scheduling is somewhat carefree. They get into their first choice classes and have no problem registering. However, they paid their dues, for sophomores and freshman are now experiencing the issues they dealt with in the past.

Last Friday the official spring 2011 course listing was made public. Shouldn’t we be excited to see what courses are being offered? Shouldn’t we expect to get into the classes we are passionate about?

To every student’s disappointment, we have come to learn that we can’t always get what we want. Pre-scheduling is a hectic, sometimes traumatic experience. You have to have several different courses picked out, because the likelihood of you getting your top picks is slim to none.

There are several variables that account for what classes you end up in. The most important part is the small piece of paper determining your time slot that seals your fate. We are told to believe it’s just about the luck of the draw; that your registration time is chosen at random. Then why does it feel like you get screwed over every time? None of us seem to get lucky. In addition, it’s a known fact that certain classes are harder to get into than others. Petitioning for courses seems somewhat tedious when you know upperclassmen will get priority. At the same time, you have major, minor, and general education requirements to worry about.

With all of this at stake, your fifteen-minute time slot the day of your registration is unpredictable. I have witnessed a friend click to register for a course at Hale house only to be rejected (someone thirty seconds before signed up). You can imagine the frustration! And then it becomes an impulsive decision to choose your last class because you don’t want that to fill up as well. As a result, you usually end up registering for a class you know little about and have no desire to take.

While all of this seems pessimistic, I do understand that is part of the territory. The same issues with scheduling happen at most colleges and this is something we must come to terms with. Most students are not sure about their major until the end of their sophomore year. Because of this, students sometimes benefit from taking a class they otherwise wouldn’t have ventured into. There is always something to gain and something new to learn. That’s the point of a liberal arts college, right? To have a well-rounded education.

I still question whether there is something else the registrar could do to make registering less stressful. Could priority be given to those who have declared their majors and minors? Could there be a better system for determining your registration time? There are many questions and unfortunately little answers, and sometimes, little help.

So my fellow students, another pre-scheduling falls upon us and it is our responsibility to make the best of it. How you handle situations like this is only helpful for the real world. Keep your head held high and realize soon enough we can have first choice at the classes we want! Enjoy the rest of the term and don’t let pre-scheduling be another stressor in your life. Spring term is not far away!

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