Shortage of course space plagues students

It's the beginning of a new semester and for many students that means a handful of course action forms and a spot on a waiting list. This alternative form of course enrollment continues to be popular this spring as students face rejections from ISIS and professors attempt to accommodate anxious majors.

According to Richard Handler, associate dean for College undergraduate academic programs, oversubscribed classes are a perennial problem.

"There's always this problem as enrollment goes up slowly and state financial support remains inadequate," Handler said. "We worry about it all the time."

Yet while acknowledging that current enrollment is "not a great situation," Handler said he has yet to see long lines of panicked students.

"Students can't always get the courses they want at the times they want them," Handler said, but "we've never yet had a student who couldn't graduate because they couldn't complete their major."

Class enrollment is limited by a number of factors.

"We want to have as many people in classes as we can accommodate," Faculty Senate Chair Robert E. Davis said. "The limiting factor is most often the resources in classes, the TAs and graders."

Politics Department Chair Robert Fatton agreed, saying the problem of overfull classes has nothing to do with what professors would like to do.

"There are not enough faculty members and not enough graduate students and money to add classes," Fatton explained.

While the problem has plagued the politics department for years, Fatton said he hopes it will be alleviated next year with the addition of one or two new faculty members.

Currently, almost all politics classes are "crowded" and many seat more students than regular enrollment numbers stipulate.

"It's not an ideal situation, but it's not a situation that would prevent someone from getting their degree in politics," Fatton said. "The problem is that they don't get into their first choice classes in many cases."

Psychology Department Chair Timothy Wilson said this semester enrollment is in "okay shape," saying psychology majors have been able to get into the courses they need to fulfill their requirements.

"We always have courses that are overenrolled," Wilson said. "Our main concern is that majors have what they need to graduate."

A priority on placing department majors can leave underclassmen frustrated.

Second-year College student Hala Matar said she had trouble finding available classes -- until she changed her prospective major.

"I went into an econ class and it was ridiculous how many people were on the waiting list, and it was ridiculous even after the professor expanded the class by 25 people," Matar said.

Matar said she had more success finding spots in drama courses; success she attributed to fewer department majors -- and luck.

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