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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

UMass Boston needs to lengthen the add-drop period

I’m not much of a shopper, but when I do decide to purchase new items/video games which involve lots of shooting and bloodshed, I endeavor to get the item most suited for my needs. I take my time to make my decision. 
This mindset applies to many individuals with the exception of crack-heads desperate for a fix (those guys will snort anything). Some of us take hours deciding which clothes or shoes we’re going to purchase. We try them on again and again, struggling to ensure that they are the perfect pair for us.
Even after making the purchase, we are left with the option of returning them weeks after if we then realize that we must have been blind, possessed, or both to have bought them at all. Purple pants? Really?
Why then, are we not allowed to apply the same, or at least a similar attitude towards choosing classes at the beginning of new semesters?
After returning from long (food and alcohol filled?) holidays, FBI worthy research on professors, and numerous awkward meetings with advisers, we begin to attend our newly picked classes.
We’re tasked with figuring out if the course(s), which will slowly but surely consume our souls over the next 17 weeks, are good fits. We’re given barely three 50 minute meetings to complete our assessments and make our decisions.
Right now, according to the super official University of Massachusetts Boston undergraduate academic calendar, the first day of classes is Jan. 27 while the add/drop deadline is Feb. 3. For Tues/Thur students that’s only two meetings, for Mon/Wed/Fri students it’s three.
Seeing as most of us lack remarkable skills of deduction à la Sherlock Holmes (and suspicious spouses), the 200 minutes of classes UMass Boston offers is an unbelievably inadequate amount of time within which appropriately thought out decisions can be made regarding our courses.
As consumers in a competitive market, we should reserve the right to carefully choose our goods for purchase. The fleeting nature of the add/drop period unceremoniously strips us of the right to do so. We are forced to make potentially life altering decisions within the same amount of time it takes to watch two soccer games. It’s like playing Russian roulette with our academic lives.
Granted, after a few weeks of the semester, students can opt to withdraw from classes that don’t quite tickle their fancies for minimal penalties. These minimal penalties include a big fat “W” on your transcript as well money (and time) spent on that class not getting refunded. This explains why so many students see it out till the end and wind up failing more woefully than the Celtics have been all year.
Most professors consider the idea of lengthening the add/drop period akin to attempted murder because it affects their drawing up of student lists. They complain about the burden of catching up students who added the classes later up to the speed of their more punctual peers.
Still, increasing the length of the add/drop period by no more than a week will do very little to throw professors off their curricula. A cost-benefit analysis would certainly not be remiss here. Is it more advantageous to have students in classes which they actually learn in or to have professors (who are only slightly more satisfied than they would have been otherwise) teaching classes filled with students day dreaming about the good old days when they actually enjoyed classes?
In our already extensively flawed educational system, implementing this one change would almost certainly lead to clearly visible progress.