March 2, 2010

Bad timing

The Registrar should work with departments to reduce scheduling conflicts

With the release of time schedules during seventh week, students have begun to make their last set of course selections for the year. All too frequently, however, students find they have to choose between equally desirable classes because of simple scheduling conflicts. The University Registrar should work with departments to avert common conflicts between and within departments to permit students greater freedom and success in their course selection.

While Core classes are scheduled to balance Hum and Sosc opposite math and science, upperclassmen often struggle with scheduling conflicts when their classes are focused within a single topic. For example, “Comparative Politics of 20th Century Latin America,” “Latin America: Economics of Developing Countries,” “Intensive Study: Haiti,” and “Liberation Theology in Latin America” are all scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 to 11:50. The majority of social science classes begin at 10:30 or 1:30, thus preventing students from taking electives outside their department in similar disciplines. Likewise, math and science departments’ highly structured course tracks severely limit inter-department elective opportunities and complicate double-majoring.

Class scheduling decisions are made by the professors who teach them and the individual departments, generally without the consideration of classes in other departments. This creates the potential for classes in similar subjects, but different departments, to clash unnecessarily, making it harder to put together a schedule that adequately meets students’ interests. Thus, professors should make a regular effort to prevent conflicts in cross-listed departments and common fields for double-majors.

It would be impossible to address every scheduling conflict—there are a lot of classes offered and only so many available hours in the week or in a busy professor’s schedule. However, there should be at minimum a practice of notifying departments when there are multiple classes related to environmental policy offered at the same time or when scheduling conflicts occur in fields such as math and physics that have many double-majors. This extra consideration will go a long way to increase registration in related classes and to help students achieve a truly interdisciplinary education.

— The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Editor-in-Chief– Elect, Viewpoints Editors, and three Editorial Board members.