With class registration for the Spring 2010 semester looming on the horizon, I know I can’t be the only student loathing the entire process. I can’t imagine there are many things more stressful than the hours spent computing different combinations of courses on RPI Scheduler, only to find out minutes before your designated registration period that not only are your top pick of times are full, but so are many of the required classes for your major. Already looking at the two or three sets of schedules I could possibly have and the several conflicting classes, I dread this upcoming week. I know somewhere along the line, I’m going to get screwed.
This wouldn’t be so bad if I knew that every single person on campus was involved in this fight to find the ideal time for their Aerospace Structures and Control Lab, or having to make the decision to take NumComp or EMD. But that’s not the case, as student athletes on campus get first dibs at classes. I’m not saying this is a bad idea, but there are several groups on campus, such as members of the student government or The Poly editorial board, that could benefit from this first.
When I go to schedule my classes, pretty much I aim for two things: how early can I finish classes on Tuesday and how late can I begin classes on Wednesday. Unfortunately, those are also the prime schedule constraints, since getting out early on Tuesday means finishing sooner on Friday, and frankly no one wants class on Wednesday. Usually I can’t pull this off, and end up working on the sports section till the wee hours of Wednesday morning, only to have to wake up a few hours later to trudge my way to ModCon lab or whatever else is on my plate.
It also adversely affects other groups on campus, such as student athletes involved in club sports. Just because your team isn’t recognized as a varsity sport by the Institute doesn’t mean you work any less than any of the “official” student-athletes on campus. Last year, more members of club teams advanced to the national level than any of the varsity athletics on campus. Imagine how much better these teams could be if finding practice time wasn’t a fight, but a smooth process?
I experience this first-hand as a member of the ski team on campus. We compete against Division-III teams which not only have coaches, but actually recruit their athletes, and get many more perks than our team does, such as GS suits and uniform jackets. You have no idea how difficult it is to get time on gates to practice, not to mention that our mountain—more like a hill, and a sad excuse for one to top it off—is over 40 minutes away. Being able to schedule classes to end a little earlier on days we practice would make things so much easier, and we wouldn’t have to leave people behind because their class ended 20 minutes after we had to leave to get even an hour of on-hill time.
I’m not saying to get rid of advanced scheduling for student athletes on campus, but only to broaden the definition of “student athlete.” If you’re going to give some of them perks, you should give us all that advantage too—we need it a lot more than they do.