Sunday, November 29, 2009

Not Everything's Rosy

Let's be honest: there are drawbacks to every school in existence. Whether it's the location, job opportunities, curriculum, staff, facilities--everything can't be perfect. So when you visit schools, make sure you ask students not only what their favorite things are but also their least favorite things.


If there's a home football game, do NOT try navigating Charlottesville near game time. It's a mess. Friday afternoons can be bad, too. Oh, and parking? It's scarce and often costly. Personally, unless there's a pressing reason, I don't understand why students bring their own cars. The convenience just doesn't seem to justify the price.

Why It's Okay

The bus system is incredible! Between the trolley, city buses, and university buses, you can travel from Alderman Library to the Downtown Mall to the hospital to Hereford Residential College to the Law school for free. There is absolutely no charge for anyone to use university buses. Furthermore, the city is so beautiful and compact, I walk everywhere: to the shopping center, the Downtown Mall, the Corner. They're close together, and unless it's raining, the walk is scenic and enjoyable.

Oh, computers. They're wonderful and yet the cause of so many meltdowns all at once. The Student Information System (SIS) is a new version of the Course Offering Directory (COD), and I can list many things I'm more fond of than it. True, part of the dislike is that it's a change from the old system, but there is also the fact that course listings are now more confusing because every course is listed, not just the courses for a given semester. Also, the SIS doesn't allow testing periods to overlap, meaning lots of paperwork to override the system. It's a headache, and it's obnoxious, but we keep it around anyway.

Why It's Okay
The SIS allows you to list every class you want to enroll in and then when the time comes to enroll, click a single button and you're into each course. With the COD, you had to wait to get the list started and so people with 7:20 AM appointment times often complained of being too tired to sign up. Once I had a very early enrolling appointment, and I can vouch that trying to use the COD and correctly get each class when I'm that groggy is only asking for me to make a typo and end up in the wrong class. So that's a major improvement. Also, I did like seeing every course being offered when I had to plan out my major. Having every course just made the process simpler because I had the complete Record in front of me. And no matter how much the computer system upsets some students, they can usually just course action into whatever class they want. Course Actions override SIS restrictions and credit limits. They're an excellent ace in the hole to have when a class closes due to enrollment being filled. Of course, every professor can't always course action everybody, but chances are good that if you really want to be in the course, the professor will let you into it.

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