April 13, 2010

A User’s Guide to CoursEnroll

Print More

For those of us who are not seniors this year, we have been re-introduced to CoursEnroll. Bam. Yes, spring is here, but now you gotta think about the coming fall as well, sorry. For me, it was a blow to the stomach that left me out of breath, but I’ll spare you the “OMG I’m going to be a senior already?!?!” rant. CoursEnroll, however, is a good way to get an idea of what you’re going to be doing next year. As a student who has done it for the fourth time, I thought I’d  give some pointers as to what you should be trying or aiming for in these coming days.

First, a couple basics: Five courses is a good number. Four may work, depending on how busy you are. Six is more than what you want. The number of credits is not always predictive of how much work you have to put into a class (many of the courses that will take over your life are three credits. Do not underestimate it.) and neither is the level of the class (See BIOG101-107, CHEM 1570, etc). Books are not always a requirement; make sure you will actually read the book before you buy it. Also, a message that the course you’re trying to sign up for is full does not mean you won’t get into it. I have had at least seven classes I’ve gotten into regardless of both the class and the waiting list being full. If you really, really want a course, fight for it. You probably will get in.

Now, the numbered list:

1) For God’s sake, have lunch. I tried not having a lunch hour for three years (because that class was so good! I can’t afford to miss it!) and have regretted it and dropped a course at least half the time. Having a free period sometime in the day is ridiculously valuable. It allows you to stop by administrative offices whenever you need to (endless visits to Financial Aid are sometimes a necessity, after all), to actually go to office hours (which may be better than lecture, especially once you’ve established a rapport with the professor) or to maybe finish homework before 5 p.m., which means you have evenings to yourself and can procrastinate guilt-free. In addition, you can actually eat. Even with friends. That’s always good too.

2) Take writing sections. I cannot stress this enough. If a class has it, take it. WIM sections are even better. It doesn’t matter how good or terrible your writing is: An essay can always be rewritten and improved upon, a test score can’t. I recall getting a 12 (a TWELVE!) on my first BIONB2220 prelim. I was in a WIM section, somewhat improved my test scores and got an A in the end. I’m serious. Writing sections count. A LOT.

3) Take at least one course that you LIKE. Preferably, take it either pass/fail, or not directly required for your major. This will mean you will actually enjoy the class without worrying about the grade, and odds are you will probably learn more than you do in the courses you actually take for a grade. I recall writing a 15-page long epic poem for one of those. Delicious.

4) Do NOT take more than three courses you know are very challenging. You will suffer and will cram unnecessarily, your grades won’t be as great and, quite probably, you will end up really hating one or more of them. What’s the point? Take it slow unless you have no other option. When you don’t, go and talk to your advisor. Sometimes you have alternatives.

5) Try to make sure you have at least one course with a professor that is amazing in what she or he teaches. Passion for knowledge is contagious. Talk to people about professors and make sure you get the best professors you can. They can change your academic interests in interesting ways (I know what I’m saying. I’ve switched majors six times).

6) Remember there is always room for change. Don’t stress out too much about what you choose because you’ll probably not end up with the schedule you’re making up right now, and that happens all the time. Chillax and take the time to see what else is out there. Some courses are only taught once every four semesters and it’s worth it to check them out when they’re around.

On another note, I read about Prof. Grant Farred’s alleged sexist comments yesterday and was a little surprised/speechless with the whole thing. I obviously don’t approve, but I’m wondering whether either a) this is being a little exaggerated or b) the many other instances of this kind are just ignored so much I’ve gotten used to it. I think that words and actions are quite different from each other and I wonder whether Farred is truly a sexist pig, or he just happened to say something wrong at the wrong place and time. I have no idea.

We have all heard stories of similarly discriminatory incidents on campus though. Like that professor that will only hire hot blonde TAs for his class. Or that other professor that refused to write a letter of recommendation for a girl, resulting in the loss of the job she was attempting to get. Or that lecturer who kept on making xenophobic comments to her TAs for the whole semester. Or my latest favorite — when this kid had someone else take a test for him (a student already admitted to med school) and someone found out, but nothing was done.

My point being, Farred’s alleged comment is far from the only discriminatory incident we need to address. If we were to fire Farred because of a comment like this, what are we going to do with all the rest?

Original Author: Florencia Ulloa