I wanted my alarm to stop buzzing. I peered at my iPhone through my crusty morning eyes. It was 6:45 a.m. My first class wasn’t until 9 a.m. But this morning, I was on a mission, so I jolted from my squeaky mattress — in my pajamas and all — and proceeded to fulfill the plan I had mapped out the night before.
Registering for classes was a mission that I thought I was prepared for.
I vividly remember lounging with my friends in the basement of our residence hall two years ago, anxiously waiting for midnight to arrive. We would eat snacks and discuss professors and the classes we hoped to steal a spot in for the next semester. When midnight came, we scavenged for placement in various courses in order to construct our ideal roster using OWLnet. Although OWLnet seemed like a cryptic and bothersome system, we managed. If you didn’t get the classes you wanted, your friends were right there to comfort you. If you did, they could provide immediate encouragement.
Two years later, I was alone, fed up and half asleep.
It was 6:55 a.m. when I realized that the pristine itinerary I created for the first half of 2013 was a nightmare five minutes away. My eyes strained as I scrolled up and down the pages of Self-Service Banner. Furiously, I clicked through tabs noticing that seats in courses I’m required to take were scarce. The courses on my personal back-up plan conflicted with open required courses. I was screwed. I couldn’t take this because it wasn’t “writing intensive.” I can’t take that because the professor has a horrible reputation. I wanted to be excited about expanding my cultural capital, but I was too busy worrying about whether I’d have too many credits or if I wouldn’t qualify for financial aid.
It was 7 a.m. — time for the reaping.
My parents would be glad to know that the money they have been peeling off the walls of our financial stability has been spent on a system in which I have to fight for the education I want. It was Temple’s adaptation of “The Hunger Games.” At Temple, many of us are just trying to achieve affluent status in a job market that isn’t as promising as it used to be. However, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that increasing college rates and scheduling systems that make us want to hunt someone down are contributing to the rise of six-year retention rates that Temple gloats on the budget request. If you love a school, most likely you’ll stay longer. However, is that the case for super seniors that have been here longer than expected? Without getting the classes I needed, when I needed them, I’d be writing checks out to Temple forever.
God forbid I had a financial hold this semester. I wouldn’t dare wish that on anyone in these arduous scheduling games.
The lack of class sections, engaging professors and a merciful scheduling system makes the order you choose your classes vital. Early 8 a.m. classes are generously more inviting when the professors teaching the courses are positive and engaging.
It was unfortunate that sections with the most desirable times seemed to be taught by teachers with bad ratings. I felt like it was another factor conflicting me. I tried to get the most out of my education by picking great teachers and constructing a productive school day, but selecting classes had become a science that most of us won’t ever understand.
I have only three semesters before my expected graduation. Now I might have to endure another two if I don’t cram 34 credits in the next academic year. I will be focusing on graduation, when my focus should be directed toward job placement.
My prerequisites are completed. I’ve sat through all the general education requirements. Still, I’m baffled that I have to compete — or even gamble — with students that have slightly more credits than I do.
I was shocked that classes I really wanted to take next semester weren’t even being offered. I was upset that those students who had parents that can pay their tuition on time were almost guaranteed seats over passionate students who have been struggling to keep up with payments. I couldn’t help but wonder if the way we pick classes is fair.
Now I look at my schedule that lists professors that received frowns on ratemyprofessors.com and undesirable class times. What could I have done to make this better for me? Next fall, I’ll be a senior and I would like to hope that means I’ll have an easier time getting the classes I need. I can’t help but feel bad for underclassmen that have been through what I’ve been through. So for the next time I enter the scheduling ring, “may the odds be ever in my favor.”
Sebastian Ade can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.