As we emerge from the hectic first week of school, we breathe a collective sigh of relief as the stress of finding classes, buying books and getting acquainted with new schedules is behind us. Or is it? We are all aware of the incredible lack of classes available each quarter and the disappointment of being at the end of a long waitlist. But even more frustrating is the ever-present ritual of crashing classes. And although by the end of the first week, most people have either gotten a yes or no on the classes they have petitioned, some of us still hang in the balance.
This quarter I had a special experience with petitioning a chemistry class. As many students know, the trick is not getting into the lecture, but being able to find a spot in the lab. I had high hopes, as I was able to fit in two of the three sections, thus increasing my chances of adding. Since it has always baffled me that people often show up late and still expect to get a spot, I made a point to arrive 15 minutes early. I was happy to find that I was the first person there so I notified the professor that I was there to petition, took a seat and crossed my fingers. Two others showed up as well and together we waited and watched as the seats began to fill. In the end, it came down to one seat and I lost out on a game of “pick the name out of a hat.” A bit disappointed, I had no choice but to leave and return two days later to try again.
Thursday rolled around and once again I showed up early, and two others joined me shortly after. This time two spots were open and I felt I had a fairly good chance. Boy, was I wrong. One spot was given to a graduating senior and the other was given away to the person who had shown up last. The professor decided he deserved the seat as he “had been petitioning for a lab all week.” This time I was more confused when I left since I had just been discounted on the basis of not being available to petition every single section that week.
This brings me to my complaint. I am amazed by the array of methods professors use to add people to their classes. Of course, many will give priority to seniors, majors or minors, which is understandable, but then there are the more ridiculous games of chance such as picking numbers or names out of a hat. I can’t understand why there isn’t a standardized system. It seems that after the seniors and majors are taken care of, the rest of us are at the mercy of the professor. Rather than refer to the waitlist order or take note of the people who managed to show up early or on time, they leave it to chance for the sake of “being fair.” The first week of classes is stressful enough without this guessing game many students have no choice but to play. Maybe the school doesn’t have the means to add more classes to remedy the problem, but it would be extremely easy to implement a system that students can reference and figure out for themselves what their chances really are.
Melissa Hulgreen is an animal science junior and a Mustang Daily guest columnist.