by Samantha Plotner
Creating a course schedule at Barnard is both an art and a science. First are the logistical questions. Have you fulfilled all your Nine Ways? What major requirements are left? What about for a second major or a minor? Are any of those requirements time sensitive? What time does everything meet, and where? Then there are the more qualitative questions. What classes look interesting? Who is teaching them? That is before you even get into questions of balancing work levels or difficulty levels of your classes or balancing classes with a job or internship. Then there’s finding the time to meet with your advisor (or advisors for double majors) to actually get your program approved. Even under the best of circumstances this process takes time. So when an e-mail pops up in my inbox from the Registrar saying courses won’t be posted until March 30th or April 2nd I have to suppress the urge to scream in the middle of the Diana. At what other school would it be ok to post classes the day you are supposed to start picking them? And how many of us have a completely free Monday that we could spend perusing classes?
Lest this turn into an article long rant, let me explain why this frustrates me so much. First is the fact that the expectation that we pick our classes in such a short time frame is unnecessarily anxiety provoking. I can’t be the only Barnard student who requires a spreadsheet to figure out my classes. Second, on a bureaucratic level this really shouldn’t be happening. I understand that figuring out what courses will be offered, on what days, at what time, and in what place must be a logistical nightmare. But if this is a time issue, shouldn’t they be getting what classes will be offered from individual departments sooner? Would it be so problematic to not post everything at the same time? And if the Registrar already has the classes, and the times, why not post them already? I wouldn’t mind a class posted with a TBA room. Or has Barnard given all our classes to Columbia and the Columbia Registrar is taking their sweet time posting them? If that is the issue, why can’t Barnard post our classes ourselves on each department website (where they already end up posted eventually) while waiting for the powers that be at the University Directory to get their act together? At this point, there’s nothing to be done to get things up faster for Fall 2012. As a solution would it be so hard for the Registrar to push back pre-programming filing a week, or even a few days, knowing there is a significant delay in getting classes out?
I get that pre-program filing is not final. We can look over things this summer, and change during shopping period. However, when you have little flexibility in your schedule, or if you want or need a fall semester job or internship your schedule needs to be pretty near final before shopping period. But the fact that it is days before I’m supposed to start shaping my schedule and I have next to no idea what is available is about to give me an anxiety attack. By not giving us time to fully go through classes, who knows what we’ll miss out on. As an institution holding classes is Barnard’s basic function. In a way everything else is just extra. Barnard excels at so much, so seeing them failing at something so basic is not only frustrating as a student trying to schedule my life but also as a person who knows Barnard’s bureaucracy can, and should, be better than this.
Samantha is a junior at Barnard and Editor in Chief of The Nine Ways of Knowing. As of this article’s publication there were still no fall 2012 classes posted in the Columbia Directory of Classes.