Published: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
You open a computer program that looks like it would be running on a machine in Bill Gates’ basement when he was 14. Either that, or you think that you should be down in the hatch from Lost, typing in the numbers that prevent the world from exploding, on the computer screen built in the ’80s. If you haven’t watched Lost, the main point of that comparison was “built in the ’80s” (and that you should watch Lost). We’re not off to a promising start.
Once UIS is open, you type to replace the blinking underline with blocky numbers formed with the minimum number of pixels. 4 8 15 16 23 42. Then you catch yourself and type the course codes for the classes you want to take. More often than not, though, it’s classes you plan on taking, not really what you want to take.
I understand that it’s hard to keep class quality if they let courses get too full, and with a limited number of classrooms and teachers on campus, it is difficult to simply add another section. So while I’d like to complain about the fact that a class I wanted was closed, I understand. However, I do think that Boston College has some contradictions between its stated mission and the realities forced by the course selection process.
As a Liberal Arts institution, students are encouraged to take classes outside of their major and even to take a few courses in the different undergraduate colleges. However, when choosing my classes last year, I had to declare an English major in order to take the course that I wanted, even though I had fulfilled its prerequisites. And this year, an economics elective that I am interested in is open only to econ majors and minors, again regardless of whether or not a student has fulfilled the prerequisites. Of the four sections of a statistics course, two were not open to me because I am not in CSOM, which seems contradictory to the policy that students can take courses in other schools, especially since all sections of the class are supposedly the same in terms of structure and content.
We are told to branch out and explore our interests, and though the core does enforce this, after that point, it is hard for students to become involved in a department unless it is the only department they are getting involved in.
There are also problems before the registration process even starts, when we are all required to meet with an academic advisor, and theoretically go over our educational plans and ensure that we are on the right track in terms of fulfilling Core and major requirements. However, the reality of this process also does not seem to be living up to BC’s stated ideal.
College students should not need too much hand-holding. We should be able to read the University’s requirements and plan our courses accordingly, not waste all of our time on electives and then realize too late that we don’t have enough room in our schedule to complete our majors. However, with the current advising system, that seems entirely possible. If this happens to a student, it would certainly be his own fault, but there still seems something wrong with the fact that even with advisors, this circumstance would be a possibility.
Last year I had yet to send in my high school AP exam scores, which fulfilled most of my core requirements. So when I was registering for spring classes, my degree audit said that I needed to take a year of science, math, history, and English, even though I had actually placed out of all of those. When I met with my advisor, she gave me my registration code, asked me about the courses I planned to take, none of which were science, math, or history, and had no qualms about this.
On the one hand, it’s good that she had faith that I’m an adult and know what I’m doing when planning my next four years, but on the other hand, it’s a bit unsettling that it would be entirely possible to get to senior year with no one telling you that you do, in fact, need to take a science, math, history, and English. Again, it’s the student’s responsibility, but then what is the point of the advisor?
An archaic computer system for course registration doesn’t have any real bearing on the process, but it does seem to be a sign of how infrequently the University reevaluates the current system. We constantly update buildings, reevaluate and improve class offerings, and put resources toward advancing individual parts of the University, but when it comes to course registration, there is incompatibility with the themes of the University. We are supposed to be guided by faculty to take classes that fulfill school requirements and let us expand our horizons, but with the current system, that is not the reality.