No class schedule is exactly like another



Agnes Cho

With the exception of graduating seniors, University students are approaching that time of the semester again. The time that either stresses you out with the remarkable amount of digging you deem necessary, or strikes you as obviously trivial and uncomplicated. This time is the point at which you pull out the contact of that upperclassman you know to shoot them a nicely worded text or email asking for the inside scoop—the kind that can’t be procured from the CATS reports. This is when students all flock to their advisors, seeking the secret combination of letters, numbers and symbols that will unlock their futures—at least on Novasis. This is class registration time. 

Registration means different things to different students. Upon speaking to several individuals, I found that varying attitudes were expressed. These attitudes ran the gamut between two extremes that resulted in either investing too much time and energy in the scheduling process or putting in only as much effort as necessary to make life easy next semester. It became clear that depending on the student, he or she will adopt an outlook on this spectrum, which represents a great variety of priorities, preferences and personalities.

While it may be tempting to simplify this matter into one of conscientiousness, allowing students to be classified as those who care about their classes or those who do not, I am partial to the conviction that an overwhelming majority of, if not all, students at Villanova place great importance on the trajectory of their college careers. Conscientiousness aside, the priorities of students—achieving good academic scores—can be the same but manifested differently due to a variety of factors, including majors, particular college requirements, additional degrees such as double majors, concentrations, or minors or desire for personal education beyond credentials (via auditing). 

The most prominent factor in structuring schedules is, understandably, a student’s specific college or major requirement. Specifically, engineering, nursing and science majors have a justifiably strict curriculum. This makes the registration process itself easier and reduces the time necessary to determine which classes to take, though it leaves little room to fit in classes these students would like to take for personal enrichment outside their major requirements. Business and arts students, on the other hand, can enjoy more flexibility and options for classes, but this results in the tendency to take more time determining schedules. 

However, choosing classes eventually does become a matter of individuality when the options present themselves. Even required courses offer options in the types of professors, the nature of the curriculum, the difficulty level of the work, the workload, the timing and the location. The way students incorporate these classes into their schedules reveals more than their priorities and preferences—it reflects personalities. And interestingly, similar to personalities, no schedule is exactly like another. 

Beyond the unique reflections of students’ personalities in their schedules, the common priority of students to do well in their education manifests differently. This is evident in the way students set their preferences according to how they would like to do well. Some students believe that doing well should be accomplished along the path of least resistance, that is, taking an “easy A” class. The concept of doing well translates differently to each student, assuming either a mechanical meaning or a more experience-oriented educational perspective. I believe it is important that students of Villanova adopt the second conception of “doing well.” We owe ourselves more than just the significance of an A.     

Students who primarily choose a professor based on the description of lenient grading reveal that they see things through a low-risk mindset (for whatever that may be worth in the long run) when it comes to risk-versus-reward, since comparatively little effort results in a very desirable outcome. Other students may choose a professor based on more holistic factors that they discover are important to them, such as an enlightening yet challenging learning experience. Both types of students are justified in their decisions, and most of us are likely a mix of the two. Regardless of whatever side wins over during registration—the side that wants to have it easy and the side that wants a worthwhile challenge—it is my belief that as students we should simply seek to learn. The pressure to prioritize getting high grades is something in which we can all find solidarity. But in my experience, challenging myself with courses that will truly make a difference in my education is what gave me lasting satisfaction, and much of the time, the desire to do well makes it possible for attaining high grades to be a result of that challenge. After all, we are all here to succeed with our education, so shouldn’t that mean we succeed by ourselves as well? Success does inevitably encompass good grades, especially when we must quantify our credentials and academic experience later on. But beyond that, doing well for ourselves means recognizing more value in our education than a letter or GPA signifies. Speaking for myself, when I register for my classes, I want to be able to feel excitement for my upcoming diverse intellectual challenges. I don’t want to feel an absence of opportunities to differentiate the progress of my education in one semester from another. Instead, I want to be able to witness the growth of my educational journey at Villanova—especially the education of the whole person, rather than of just the mind.