Thursday, June 18, 2009

On the Express Train to Nowhere

It is once again that dreaded time of year. The time when students count down until midnight and then begin to click furiously in an attempt to get access McMaster’s SOLAR online server to register for their courses. Every year, there are technical problems, administrative issues, and just general chaos resulting in class schedules sprinkled with the most random and useless classes available. This year was no exception.

In anticipation of the mudslinging gong show that was to come, I decided to get organized this year and figure out my future ahead of time rather than in the 45 minutes that SOLAR gives you to choose your courses. However, I quickly realized as an upper year Arts and Science student; I have no future to figure out. I am on the express train to nowhere.

Though I am in a program that should bring together the Arts and the Sciences, thus allowing me access to upper year courses in both faculties, I’ve learned that University administration does not operate based on logic. Each elective course requires special permission from the faculty departments. Each department then requires countless emails and skillful begging. Once I finally managed to convince them of my hidden talents, I then had to battle the thousands of other students and attempt to get into the class.

Each year I fight this battle alone. Not like how sumo wrestlers fight solo, but more like taking on the All Blacks Rugby team without a single hope of backup. It seems that as soon as registration time approaches, our administrative coordinator makes a concerted effort to exert her boundless hatred for students. The urgency of your academic issue is irrelevant because even if you are spontaneously switched into the Honors Engineering program majoring in Astrophysics, she will not pick up her phone. Don’t bother emailing either, because even if you’re lucky enough to get a response weeks later, it will say “That’s too bad, email the department and see if you can work something out”. Great. Google gives better advice. The result is another year of haphazard classes ranging from “The Context of Science” to “Crime and Conflict in the Media” to “Popular Music Post WW2”. Hurray for the flawed bureaucracy of ‘higher education’.

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