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Why Are You Scheduled for That? A Note About Course Scheduling for Fall 2011

Ok parents, I have to give it to you straight. Now is the time of year when the ARC gets LOTS of calls from parents about their incoming freshmens’ schedules. Let me just say that parental concern, attention, and involvement in this critical period in your student’s life is amazing and, as well all know by now, college students with attentive, supportive parents are statistically more likely to perform well. So, it’s always good to hear your voices.

Those of you who were at Knight U remember me telling you that the ARC’s developmental advisors  (and the dean of our department) couldn’t be there because they were busy meeting with your students. I asked you to trust us–we are on your team. I told you that these people have had their hands and brains on your students’ academic records and will always create a schedule that is best for your student.

It occurs to me though, that I may not have been explicit enough. Let me describe to you what happens right outside my office door every year from March to July.

As students confirm that they’re interested in BU, their academic records and information get passed along to our academic advisors, who literally spend hours sitting at a table in the ARC going over each student individually, analyzing a multitude of factors like ACT score, high school involvement, GPA, interests, potential major, athletics, whether or not the students are first-generation, whether or not students are commuters, and what classes the students will need to take to complete their programs in a timely way. They build each student’s schedule to best fit the student’s needs. They agonize over doing this right because they know how important it is; they call professors and do verbal battle to have more sections of certain courses added on days and times that are best for freshmen; they try to ensure that your student is in Freshman Focus class with the same students who were in his/her group at Crossroads orientation so s/he has a built-in social group right off the bat. I could go on and on…

Because there are some concerns we hear repeatedly from parents, which often require some explanation, I thought I might help to make this a bit more transparent for you. Here are some things we hear a lot, followed by some info to help clarify.

1) We want to talk to your student– if you call for your student, regardless of the reason, we will always ask for you to have your student call us. This is for no other reason than the fact that your student is ultimately responsible for his/her college career, and the fact that it’s developmentally beneficial for your student to take responsibility for these decisions at this point in his/her life.

2) “My student needs to have all of his/her classes in only three days per week.” Historically, scheduling courses like this sets students up for failure. They can’t develop a regular schedule and they don’t become involved with the university. And it inevitably causes your student to have several days throughout the semester when they have exams in all three classes! That’s not something you want for your student, especially if s/he is working on top of a full course load.

3) “My student is not good in the morning and so we don’t want any 8am classes”–This is another one that’s nearly impossible. Freshman will at some point, most likely have to deal with 8am classes. They did it in high school, and most of them will have to do it when they graduate. This is part of their adult responsibility to learn time management.

4) “My student wants evening classes.” This is another one that should be avoided for freshmen as far as time management. You’d be surprised how often students insist on registering for these classes and then, when they stop showing up and we get in touch with them they say, “I just kept forgetting because it’s only one night per week.”

5) My brother/sister/aunt/uncle/cousin helped me figure out my schedule.” There is a TON of information that your student’s brother/sister/aunt/uncle/cousin is not privy to that factors into schedule-crafting.  They don’t know the trends that we see repeatedly with freshman; they don’t know athletics schedules or changes in curricular requirements. Again, I could go on. Trust that, for the advisors in the ARC, this is their job, and they know what they’re doing better than anyone outside BU.

6) “I don’t want that professor because I heard…” I should be able to say that this is gossip/rumor/here say and therefore students should ignore it, but that won’t happen. The fact is though, that BU is a challenging school, and any student who wants to have an “easy” professor so they can have an “easy” college experience is not really making the most of that hefty tuition investment. Plus, one student’s experience is not necessarily reflective of another’s. Case in point: my brother and I had the same professor once (at different points in our academic careers), and I say, “That was the greatest class I’ve ever had!” and my brother says, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

7) “I am a commuter and there are gaps in my schedule…” If your student is a commuter and has large gaps in his/her schedule, that is actually a good thing. These are times your student can fill with work-study or an on-campus job, as well as clubs and intramural activities, homework, or simply bonding with on-campus friends.

8) “The course catalog says that my student has to take these classes for semester freshman year, and he’s not in them.” Take note that the course schedule is a recommended track, not an absolute. For example, if your student is taking a particularly intense course load, s/he can wait and take a gen ed in the spring instead of fall.

Here’s the bottom line–all of us want the exact same thing you do: your student’s academic success and a degree in four years. You wouldn’t do anything to impede that progress, and neither will we.

Thoughts?

Jessica Hume, c/o 2005
Director of Writing and Parent Communications, ARC

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About Cassie

I'm the Director of the Writing Center and Director of Parent Communications at Bellarmine University.

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