I’m going to justify this grumbling column by first mentioning a few loveable things about UM: the abundance of fun extracurricular activities, lectures, opportunities; that the campus still looks like a country club after three hurricanes; swingy tables at the Rat, etc. Awesome perks. But about this time every semester, the actual reason students are here, to take classes, suddenly becomes a bit of a hassle.
Registering for courses: grab some aspirin and prepare for your migraine. Everything students need to take is offered at the same time and/or there aren’t enough sections offered and/or they’re only offered in the fall, but its spring and/or the courses whose fascinating descriptions we’ve been looking forward to taking since we were high school seniors are only offered by visiting professors from small countries with unpronounceable names every five to 10 years and this happens not to be one of them. OK, so maybe I’m exaggerating on that last one. But making a schedule can get complicated. Not to mention praying that you can actually register for that schedule once you’ve finally made it. I feel sort of like a high-stress Wall Street power broker checking stocks every time I log on to MyUM/Easy to see what classes are still open. Political science filled at 9:15 a.m. Monday, there went Religion 10 minutes ago, only two seats left in Finance and the clock is ticking. Will I make it in before my registration time?
Then there’s the override issue. Chasing professors down, shamefully begging, explaining you need a certain class to graduate. It doesn’t seem fair to students or professors. We need a certain class to graduate, to keep going in our major. But adding a bunch of students into a discussion-type class originally planned for only a handful may result in extra work for the professor. He or she may have to reformat the entire class, grade more papers, be unable to provide as much personal feedback to students as they might otherwise want to.
Still, what alternatives do we have but to desperately seek overrides? A lot of student work goes into college, too-working at jobs to pay for tuition, working in class to get good grades, working on a post-college career or graduate school plan. Being able to get into classes should not turn into time-consuming work as well.
This is a small, private university. It costs about the equivalent of a middle-class worker’s salary to attend UM for just a year. Can’t we please have the interesting classes we want and need offered consistently? If money is the problem, can the funds used for things like free pens and Frisbees bearing UM’s logo and barbecues be redirected toward offering more upper-level courses? Hire more professors? Pay existing ones more? I really love the pens, but I prefer an education.
Estephanie Resnik can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.