Registering for Classes… or Stress?

December 6, 2011

Political Theory


It is pretty clear that it’s that time of year again when students are stressing about the upcoming finals. But is anyone else stressing about registering for classes like I am? I am a sophomore, undecided in what I would like to major in but I know that I want to minor in Crime and Justice. The problem is that most of the classes required for this minor are not offered this semester and the ones that are offered are already full. Because most of my AP credits did not transfer from high school I have fewer credit hours then most sophomores and I have one of the last registration dates. There is a very small chance that the classes I need or want to take will still be open when I am allowed to register. Does anyone else feel the same anxiety that I get every time I check the LSA Course Guide prior to my registration date to see if the classes that I backpacked are still available? Sure I can be added to the waitlist for those classes, but what happens when next semester rolls around and no one dropped the class? I will be stuck franticly trying to get into any available class. This happened to me second semester last year and I was stuck taking a couple classes that did not benefit my minor or my requirements; they were pretty much pointless classes I resorted to taking to remain a full time student. Sure I learned something from these classes, but the information was not beneficial for my future.

 

Maybe I am being dramatic about the difficulty in registering for classes but I can’t help referring back to the reading we had earlier in the semester, “Live and Learn” by Louis Menand. Menand covers two theories as to why students attend college and the purpose of it. His first theory is that college is simply a tool that society uses to sort out the more intelligent members. In this theory, Menand referred to college as a “four-year intelligence test”. The members of society that can achieve the higher GPAs will be offered the most opportunities after college. In this theory, it does not matter what classes students are taking or how much they are actually learning, as long as they are getting good grades in them. In his second theory, Menand refers to college as a place where members of society go to pursue specific career paths and they will focus on learning only what they need to know for success. In this theory, it is more important for the students to actually learn, not achieve the highest grades.

 

Personally, I agree with Menand’s second theory about college. Obviously I want to get good grades, but I think that what I learn in the class is more important. However, with the horrible luck I have had in the past while registering for classes, I haven’t exactly gotten the opportunity to study what I think would be successful for my future. Obviously the university is doing the best job they can to allow students to take the classes that they want or need to, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

 

What does everyone else think about the registration process at the University of Michigan? What reasons are you here for? Are you here more because of Menand’s theory one or theory two?

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6 Comments on “Registering for Classes… or Stress?”

  1. ceabee Says:

    I find the registration process here to be extremely stressful. Even though I have a fairly early registration time for a Sophomore, i find myself checking my backpack multiple times a day to make sure my classes still have available seats. Honestly, I came to college because I was always told from the time I was little that when you graduate high school, you attend college. In my family there are no alternative options. However, I here more because of Menand’s theory two. Of course a great GPA is important, but the knowledge you gain from the classes you take is more important in my opinion. My dad always tells me that he doesn’t care too much where his employees went to school or what their GPA is, as long as they can get the job done and can prove themselves in he workforce. Just because you have a good GPA and graduated from a good university doesn’t necessarily guarantee you will be a good employee or asset to a company.

  2. daniellwang Says:

    I think that Menand’s second theory is the way that college should be. Unfortunately, I think that it is hard to deny that in reality many aspects of his first theory applies to college instead.

    Although some employers may not care about college reputation and student GPA’s, I believe that there are some who do. Moreover, many jobs today require more education than a simple Bachelor’s degree. In order to account for this, many students will apply to graduate school programs where admission officers rely heavily on student GPA’s and resume’s in deciding who gets in or not. Most undergraduate students know this, and therefore they know that it is very important to maintain a high GPA (maybe even more important than actually learning the material) and this, I think, leads college to be more like Menand’s first theory rather than his second.

    Also, college is not easy (unless you go to MSU) and many of us have to take multiple courses that are very difficult. In addition to academics, many students are involved in extracurricular activities. I think that many U of M students will agree that there is simply not enough time to do everything. Sacrifices must be made, and sometimes that means students will cram for a test through short term memorization instead of truly learning and understanding the material. True, they might learn something in the process, but the main goal is to maintain the GPA.

    The pressures of society to get a job and achieve financial stability, paired with the difficulty of college may cause students to care more about their GPA’s than actually learning.

  3. Matthew Vlasic Says:

    Of course, I’m a student here in pursuit of what Menand mentions in his second theory. Students seem to put too much emphasis on their numerical average rather than actually increasing their intelligence. While I think it is wrong to do this, I acknowledge that doing this is very easy to make a habit of doing it. As you mention, sometimes we don’t get the classes we want so it becomes a numbers game. When we don’t learn about what we have passion for, we lose the incentive to genuinely process, think about and retain the information that is fed to us day in and day out.

    I think that the registration process is difficult here, just as it is anywhere else. When there are thousands upon thousands of students registering for a limited amount of classes there will always be problems. In my opinion, the worst thing about registration, as you stated, is that one may not get those classes that he or she is truly drawn to. If he or she doesn’t get the chance to take these classes then where will motivation be found? Unfortunately, this is just a difficult system and we have to make the best of what we get. Ultimately, one has to make a true effort to gain knowledge and skills in whatever class he or she is taking and also gain the ability to utilize this intelligence when it is called for in the office, down the road, when one is employed.

  4. weinben Says:

    Many people fear that pursuing a major that has a lower average GPA (pre-med, engineering) or one that does not directly lend itself to a professional counterpart (Foreign language, religion, philosophy, art history,) will leave them severely disadvantaged to find a job out of college, and clamor towards the same majors they see as more selective, prestigious, or applicable to real world employment (Ross School, economics, politic science, psychology). These pressures on students then cause the select classes available in the later majors to fill up much more rapidly than others, which might explain your predicament and the anxiety others face leading up to registration. Additionally, these fears are compounded when students with first choice of class selection in these few majors are able to select the classes with the best (or easiest) professors, leading to what many argue is an inflated GPA.
    Nevertheless, getting back to Menand, I do not find the two theories about college education to necessarily clash with one another. Can college not be both a competition and a chance to better one’s self simultaneously? Everybody should strive to do their best and understand their potential and true ability, and the whole GPA system is an attempt to gauge intelligence. Thus, those with higher GPAs are generally smarter, better students, or both, as compared to the rest of the student body, and these traits make them more valuable to future employers. However, Menand’s second theory as you explain it, that students should pursue specific career paths and only learn what is applicable to their future profession, is not a great approach either. College, historically, is a place to learn about yourself, what you like, and a chance to experience the world in a forum you will never be able to again because, at least, you’re simultaneously immersed in diversity yet find friends who are a lot like yourself. It is a unique experience, and part of the diversity and secular experience is to take classes and learn information that is simply interesting. For most jobs (save engineering), you learn all necessary skills during the first years on the job or in grad school. College education is supposed to teach you how to think, not what to think, and that is a difference Menand fails to relate upon.

  5. joeyalessi Says:

    I find the registration process way to stressful. I freak out over backpacking my classes so I can find a balance of required classes, easy classes, and have a schedule where I can sleep in and not have class on Friday. This leads me to be switching classes in and out for hours at a time. I am and really only at school to get a good job. I had the choice of going to Michigan State or Michigan and my parents pretty much forced me to go to Michigan because it will be easier to get a better job after graduating. Its almost sad that this is how the world works now. My plan is to apply for the Ross Business School. In order to get in as a Caucasian Male, I will need a GPA around a 3.6. I need to take Calc 1 and Econ 101, two very difficult classes. To make sure I get a high enough GPA I need to take easier classes in which I can get an A in. I feel stupid writing this, but that’s how college is. I am here for Menand’s first theory. I don’t think this is right, but in such a competitive school and economic time, the grade is really the only thing that matters. When u think about it more though, your GPA means nothing because it can vary on how difficult of classes you take and what your major is. Im not sure how much companies really look at your GPA but I would assume if there are two identical people in competition for a job and they are both from U of M, the one with the higher GPA will get the job. Its unfortunate, that college seems to be all about getting good grades rather than learning the information.

  6. reidmech7892 Says:

    I can completely understand where you are coming from with regards to registering. Personally, I am debating whether I should take courses that will advance and fulfill my, tentatively, premed concentration or if I should sign up for GPA booster classes. Though I want to take those classes that fulfill the requirements, I also have this notion that I need to obtain the best GPA I can get in order to be successful down the line. In my opinion, I believe that Menand’s second theory is more valid. I say this because what you learn in the classroom, despite how well you did in them, is more important when actually performing in your career. Contrarily, just getting an A in a class without learning much from it will not help you down the line when you need to remember what you learned in order to be successful. With this, I feel that graduate admissions and job offers should weigh more heavily on teacher recommendations, interviews, and the difficulty and relevancy of courses taken rather than just the grade, because not everyone is lucky or “good” at getting good grades yet they may be the former and latter when it comes to applying the knowledge in real life situations. Thus, the only way to know this, without looking at the numbers, is to understand through letters, interviews, and difficulty of courses behind the applicant.

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