College. The best four years of a student’s life, right? There’s so many exciting things that students can experience such as different clubs they can join, sports to participate in and, of course, the thrilling nightlife.
However, in between all that fun, there are those pesky little things that students need to show up to. That’s right, classes. Choosing the classes that are interesting, with what professor and what time to take them are all important decisions students need to consider. Then consider the required classes that students need to graduate and the whole college experience loses a little bit of the fun factor.
Students at Stony Brook University are currently choosing the classes they want to take for the upcoming fall 2011 semester. Students choose classes based on the enrollment date they were assigned, which can be found on SOLAR. The system is primarily based on the amount of credits a student has; the more credits they have, the earlier their date is.
“The main reason we have that system is that it creates equality in the system,” said Richard Gatteau, director of the academic and pre-professional advising center. “As students’ credit counts increase, they will get priority. A freshman or sophomore rarely absolutely needs a class, whereas a senior may need a class to graduate.”
Gatteau said students should consider whether the classes they want to take are a need or a want. For example, for a DEC F, a student may really want to take the sociology class that doesn’t meet on Fridays. However, if the only sociology class available to them is on a Friday, they may have to make a concession and take that class.
“If you don’t get a class as a freshman, chances are you’ll get it later on,” Gatteau said. “You don’t always get your first choice in life.”
Gatteau also wanted to point out that most students are not competing for the same classes anyways. He said that freshmen and sophomore students are generally taking classes in DEC categories A through G. On the other hand, juniors and seniors are typically taking classes that are DEC H through K.
The system generally allows for the students with seniority to select classes first. However, there are some groups on campus that have priority over all other students. Student athletes have first choice at classes; they started enrolling on April 4.
“I support that decision,” said Gatteau. “The university is telling them when they have practice and when they have games. Students have to work around that, and not by choice.”
Daniel Kim, a junior biology major on the swimming and diving team, said that choosing classes is not a problem for him.
“People want easy classes and we [athletes] have priority for those easy classes,” Kim said.
He could not, however, decided whether he thought it was fair that athletes get to choose earlier.
“It’s hard to say,” Kim said. “It depends on the case. Like, if an athlete stops a senior from getting into a class. My roommate is going to be a senior next year and he had trouble getting into his labs.”
Groups other than athletes get some priority choosing classes as well. Gatteau said students with disabilities, University Scholars, and members of the Honors College can choose earlier than the students who are also in their year. For example, a junior in the Honors College would have an earlier enrollment date than a junior who wasn’t.
Michael Skovan, a freshman applied math and statistics major, is a university scholar. Skovan compared the university scholars to the Honors College, with the University Scholars being more service based. He also gets some “benefits” being apart of it, including priority registration.
He said he has had an overall positive experience enrolling in classes because he was ahead of the mass freshman population.
“I think the enrollment date system works well,” Skovan said. “Individually you may not, but since it’s based on credits you should have that priority, if you’ve been longer you should have better priority.”
If students are worried about having a particularly late enrollment date, they should rest a little easier knowing that the academic advising office has been making some innovations in assuring that classes will be open.
For example, next semester Physics 121 will be offered at 6:50 a.m. to 8:10 a.m. Gatteau said since it was such a popular class, the university had two choices: Move it to a smaller room at a more popular time or a big room at a less popular time; the lecture hall can accommodate 540 students.
“If you’re up against a budget situation, you use a larger room accommodating as many students as possible,” Gatteau said. “At a new time we have a lot more flexibility. We wouldn’t do this with a class unless we knew we have a high demand.” He admits he had a student come to him asking if the time was a mistake.
Jen Wang, a freshman biology major, is not a fan of the early time slot.
“I would never take that class,” Wang, 18, said. “They should realize that this is a college campus and students aren’t going to get up that early. I would rather take a class on a Saturday afternoon for a few hours than go to class that early.”