Wednesday, June 23, 2010
An important aspect of a school is progress. Is it changing? Can it adapt? School updates, changes, and renovations are a fairly good way to measure the responsiveness of the school to student needs. Here are a few examples of changes in the last two years:
I won't lie: textbooks are expensive. They are, and if you're in a science field, you probably have to buy a new edition because the older ones don't have the cutting edge information. UVa understands this situation, and so they offer both used and rental textbooks for those who don't want to buy brand new ones. Also, they have guaranteed buy backs for textbooks. These services really help out in keeping cost down. Now, a lot of people talk about using Amazon or textbook exchange websites, but I'm a little wary of them. I know people who've ordered books that didn't come in for three weeks. Some accidentally received the wrong book or ordered the wrong book, and that costs time. For me, I want to keep it simple. The Bookstore might be a bit more pricy than ebay, but at least I know exactly what I'm getting at the Bookstore and I'm getting it immediately.
I've commented to several people how large science classes can be, and so I wanted to follow up those comments with news: several departments have responded with new courses that not only sound awesome but are also much smaller. BIOL 4120 When Good Cells Go Bad is a new three credit course offered through the Biology Department that focuses on major neurological diseases and will have around thirty students. There are also a handful of new biochemistry, psychology, and chemistry courses. Another biology course is Microbial Genomics, which will highlight microbiology fundamentals as well as principles of bacteria life. The change is tangible proof that the administration is flexible and willing to work to address student concerns. Actually, to be fair, I'm not entirely sure who to thank for new classes, but it probably is a mix of administration and department. Oh, and for students interested in other classes offered, the full catalog can be found by going to the UVa homepage, clicking on SIS, and then selecting Course Catalog. Moreover, I do want to emphasize that there have been several new classes outside of biology as well. As a scientist, I tend to focus around my field, but there is a new Bengali language course that I've heard very good things about, as well as a handful of anthropology and religious studies classes.
In addition to people like Dean Groves (who is incredibly available and aware of student concerns) working to help students, Student Council seeks ways to improve student life in a variety of areas. This year, they asked for and achieved later hours for Wilsdorf Cafe. As a regular in Wilsdorf, I can assure you that it was much more convenient and very much appreciated that the hours were extended. StudCo is also the group that provides free water on hot football game days so that students stay hydrated.