Friday, October 29, 2010

The New Semester Approaches

It’s about that time: 11:54 p.m. Just before midnight, I always seem to lose momentum. The effects of my green tea are wearing off, and as students dwindle out of the library, I feel less obligated to maintain my studious composure. I slump in my chair, and all but shamefully type in the web address bar f-a-c-e-b… Alas, no notifications. And I waited a whole hour! One final time, I’ll refresh my browser. To my surprise, I’ve received an email from my faculty advisor. “Please log into the SIS before scheduling an appointment.” Beautiful. I log into the Student Information System and am suddenly replenished with the excitement I felt late last summer registering for classes. It’s about that time: 12:00 a.m. and the next semester is approaching with the sunrise.

Am I really up for this? As exciting as it is to be planning a whole new schedule, scanning the list of classes for next semester can be equally overwhelming. As an English and/or Politics major, I highlight about 18 different courses, among them Advanced Studies in Literary Criticism, The American Short Novel, Politics in Islam, Leadership and Character, and International Law: Principles and Politics.

But how can I neglect my life-long dream of taking Italian? What about studies in Global Development? African Religions? Anthropology?

And because, as a student in the College of Arts and Sciences, I have to fulfill a few requirements, I scan the science and math sections to see if anything’s remotely interesting. I run across Principles of Nutrition: the physiological study of health, proteins and energy. Human Biology and Disease, studying the human immune system. Psychology of Aging, the study of how humans age and interpret death.

There are twelve schools at UVa, some of the most renowned including Commerce, Engineering, and Architecture. Students aren’t only restricted to one of these schools. They are offered the opportunity to take up to 18 credits in any one or multiple other schools. So, not only can I choose liberal arts classes offered by the College, but that awesome drama teacher my friend raves about? So choice! That urban planning and development course? Why not? That unexpected inspiration and life-changing class? Completely within my reach.

My list continues to expand and my excitement ameliorates. Can I really only take 15 credits? How will I ever choose?

Fortunately, all students are provided with advisors, deans, and professors who help sort through all these classes to comprise the schedule that is most appropriate for their interests or intended major. Additionally, once the semester begins, students can add, swap, or drop classes, depending on their workload, interests, and position on the waitlist. Professors not only are required to have weekly office hours to be kept open to students, but teaching assistants and discussion sections give most students additional resources for large lectures.

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