There is a fundamental need in the human psyche of the average American college student: A need to share frustration and demand action from our most mortal triad of opponents. These would of course be the prerequisite, the adviser and the department.
During the first week of classes, we're all getting oriented with our new workload, meeting up with old friends and generally seeing if we bit off more than we can chew with our current schedules.
But it was in the weeks leading up to this one that was the real struggle-creating our schedule through the process known as "enrollment." I've had conversations within the last several weeks with students who have encountered similar scheduling problems and are discouraged. For example, my experience:
For the technical journalism major, which I am honored and equally frustrated to be pursuing, the checklist reads a list of classes that must be taken sequentially, credits needed to graduate, transfer equivalents, etc. I assumed I could just plan accordingly and take all necessary classes, right? Enter:
Observation 1: The Department Class Schedule
Of course, all required, sequential classes to graduate in less than ten years (which, by the way, is the new projected estimate for all incoming freshmen and worse for transfer students) are only offered sporadically. The department-labeled "bottleneck" course is open to only 54 lucky students per semester out of a campus population of about 24,000 (approximately 20 percent Liberal Arts declared majors). Enter:
Observation 2: The Prerequisites
Not only are the sequential classes impossible to squeeze into and offered in microscopic section quantities (due, I'm told, to budget cuts), but now I've been informed that the department is considering adding yet another prerequisite to the list. Yes, extending the ten-year plan. Even though my original purple checklist says I don't have to take JT310 before I take JT420, come fall semester, this won't be the case. The agony is prolonged.
How does one possibly hope to effectively navigate the trepid waters of enrollment? Enter:
Observation 3: The Adviser
Not only will the adviser grant an appointment two to three months after the initial request, but once inside his office, he will begin spouting condescending sarcasm, interrogating your rationale on majoring in journalism and challenging your knowledge of previous classes taken. (And I'm not alone in bad experiences with advisers.)
When the meeting is finally over and you've thrashed through all the sarcasm to glean several nuggets of usable information, the department secretary will later inform you upon attempting to register that your adviser "doesn't know what he's talking about" on 99 percent of the issues.
Many advisers seem not to care to advise, but we're required to meet with them anyway because they're labeled "adviser" and have the golden key-registration codes. Thus:
Observation 4: The Last-Ditch Effort
So you spend the next eight hours trying to make sense of it and attempting to construct a reasonable class schedule with what little availability is left, which you hope will count toward something graduation-related and not conflict with the three jobs CSU knows you have to have but doesn't really care you need.
My conclusion: It's ridiculous. It's the public American education system. It's our (and our parents') hard-earned tax dollars at work. And it's OUR education and future at stake.
The solution? Customer service. Students are not inmates in the educational "system" with no rights as clients. We chose this school. There should not exist an adversarial relationship between departments and students, but one of mutual respect and common goals.
The great majority of students on this campus (I among them) honestly desire to learn. The process should not be this difficult, frustrating and against students who have the ability to take more credits and get out sooner with less student loans.
This column is dedicated to the faculty and administration of CSU in the hope you will hear your students and be accountable for actively taking interest in providing education, customer service, opportunity and access, per the Mission Statement of CSU.
Jenna Lynn Ellis is a junior technical journalism major. Her column runs every Friday in the Collegian.