The Oberlin Review
<< Front page Commentary February 8, 2008

Editorial: First-Week Frenzy Classes and Books

Fresh out of Winter Term, eager to re-immerse in academia, excitement turns quickly to frustration. Another first week of classes.

Some professors are efficient the first day of class. They understand that most of us are moving from class to class, curious and non-committal, trying to find the best one to top off our academic careers. They take roll call, cross off waitlist students who aren’t there, sign up interested visitors and give them the freedom to leave to check out another class in the meantime without being penalized. Too many professors, though, string us along on tentative waitlists, threatening that only those who return to several more classes stand a chance to be let in. We are torn between holding our place on a waitlist and hedging our bets by sitting in on other less-desired classes.

On top of this irritation lies the stress of buying books. Many professors assign books to read by the second day of class, before we’re even sure we belong. For the lucky few who stick to the classes they scheduled the semester before, they can run to the bookstore, grab their reading and keep to speed. But those of us waiting on, say, six different lists, aren’t so quick to buy, or we find the bookstore out of stock. Not to mention, this method hardly supports those trying to shy away from the “Oberlin Bookstore” — a Barnes and Noble in sheep’s clothing. Buying used books online tacks on three or four more days, at least. But, if you spring the extra money for the convenience of the bookstore, be wary of deadlines for returning books and the paltry buy-back price — if you are fortunate to have a book that the store will buy back.

Professors seem to approach add/drop with their own style, some disregarding PRESTO assignments completely, others oblivious to PRESTO waitlist-jumping. The process needs to be less arbitrary and more accommodating. As for books, all readings should be posted online the first two weeks of classes, and first-week assignments should be less demanding so we don’t stress over classes we might not take. Just in case, all required books should be on reserve at Mudd. At least this week is over.

Editorials are the responsibility of the Review editorial board – the Editors-in-Chief, Managing Editor, Production Manager and Commentary Editor – and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Review staff.


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