This week, lunch joined the endangered species list. The first pleasantries of the New Year echoed across campus between course tastings. Students returned to their dorms each night desperately seeking suitemates’ counsel, or simply corroboration of their sanity — via their class selections.
While a certain set of students slid decidedly into a routine and settled down into fresh books, another population at Yale gazed past Online Course Selection’s ambiguously gendered baby yellow background, contemplating the future of their own babies, a teeming class worksheet. Managing that puzzle by night resulted in six-, even seven-class marathons by day.
And students are already feeling the fatigue.
“It’s so hard for me to emerge from schedule planning into academic productivity mode,” Lucia Mijares ’11 said. “It’s just the beginning, and I’m already a week behind in everything.”
In pursuit of a requirement filler, the final touch on a well-rounded schedule, course shoppers can find themselves lagging behind just a few minutes, landing them on a cold swath of linoleum just south of their more punctually seated, potential classmates.
Professor Victor Henrich entered a crammed lecture hall at Dunham Laboratory, the semester’s first meeting of his highly-shopped course called “The Technological World,” looking entirely unperturbed. He wasn’t selling his class, knowing full well how efficiently it sold itself.
“You’re all here for the QR or science credit,” Henrich explained coolly, and by the sound of the ensuing self-conscious giggles, quite accurately, to the crowd overflowing into a hallway.
Henrich meant business. With more than 200 students attending and just 80 spots available, the course’s topics, such as the physics of GPS systems, were made secondary to the physics of finding an empty seat, or rearranging those scheduling blocks with an equal but opposite class (one that wouldn’t be capped). Distanced from his esteemed role as a professor of applied science and physics, Henrich itched in the polyester suit of a quota-filler.
For some of the season’s most shopped professors, over-subscribed courses bring unprecedented crowds and headaches. As members of the masses, Elis may have overlooked how their concerns take root in the crowd control-stressing professors, too.
The fourth most shopped professor this semester, David Blight, called Yale’s two week shopping period a “nightmare.” He said his teaching assistants for “Civil War and Reconstruction: 1845-77” talked him out of capping the course at 284 with more than 400 students designated as shopping the class online. But without capping, Blight said two new TAs must be found and hired — a daunting process for many professors with so little time before sections begin meeting.
“A two-week shopping period just prolongs these awkward games of indecision for everyone, students and faculty alike,” Blight said.
Blight said he overheard a conversation on the street among students comparing high numbers of shopped classes.
“I thought to myself, ‘It’s kind of a game,’ ” he said. “Do they really need to go to that many classes, or are they treating Yale like a shopping mall, just full of things to try on at will?”