Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Shopping period a time of stress

Published: January 31, 2014
Section: Opinions

Back in November when I first chose classes I had a solid idea of how I wanted to arrange my schedule. As an incoming mid-year student, I was told to explore areas that I’m interested in. But but like most people, my interests changed when I arrived on campus. The first time I attended my 10 a.m. class, I had a feeling that I’d have difficulties transitioning between classes. My first class was in Shiffman, I then had to go down the Rabb steps all the way to Schwartz, and return to the Mandel Quad later. The walk was definitely a hike every morning, and the 10-minute transition certainly required me to make my way past through all of the other enthusiastic students going to class. In class, the professor made clear the books he wanted and went over the syllabus to introduce the course. In the last 20 minutes of class, he showed a film, which we were all held accountable for. He said that we should observe and take notes regarding the violence in the film because we would be working in groups to address questions and concerns. Not fond of the class, I decided to shop a different class during this time—a class that was closer to the Mandel Quad, and perhaps less violent with respect to the film.

For the second day of classes I shopped a class in Olin-Sang. The class was smaller, the professor was more accessible and the material was more interesting to me. I decided to change classes that day. When I made the changes on Sage, I did not have accessibility to the class’ material yet on LATTE. The professor had already assigned readings and another one that day. Immediately, I ordered the textbook on Amazon, but I had to wait for the textbook to arrive. The lines at the bookstore were ridiculously long, and the books took a day to process when ordering online. This is certainly absurd. I understand that professors want to get started with the material, but expecting that all students should arrive prepared is a struggle. Obtaining the books is possible, but unless FedEx can move faster and the bookstore can endure better during the hectic two-week shopping period, then professors shouldn’t expect the students to have the books during the shopping period.

Those classes aside, in my other introductory class, the professor assigned readings from the textbooks, went in depth on the course material, and assigned a problem set due before the end of the two-week shopping period. The material in the class builds on the previous material, so catching up is critical. Deciding to enroll in the middle of the shopping period requires playing catch up, while also waiting for books to arrive, and falling behind on any new learned material. It’s a sacrifice you have to decide to make. Obviously, if you would prefer a different class and think it might be a better fit for you, the shopping period can be a useful tool. However, if you are shopping classes because you think it’s fun to explore, don’t even bother to think about it. You will just fall behind on the material and feel lost in class, completely under-utilizing the shopping period.

Professors need to be more considerate in the first two weeks with the readings, assignments and workload. Students are still adjusting, searching for their niche in the semester, and trying out new things. Perhaps students can prepare for the shopping period by reflecting on the drawbacks, but also considering the advantages when shopping a class. Regardless of their final choice, students should feel confident in their final schedule and not be worried that they might have missed something vital while shopping other classes.

As for me, I am glad I switched classes the second day of the semester. I still had time to catch up with the material, get my textbook after a week of waiting and submit two homework assignments. No matter how students handle the shopping period, we take on too much of the stress that comes with juggling different schedules, book orders and finding our way around. As for the professors, please have mercy.