Business school registration gives unfair advantages, Arts & Sciences should follow example

COURTESY PHOTO // STEPHEN SALPUKAS

Taylor Robertson ’23 is from Lynchburg, Virginia. A finance major and accounting concentration, he is the business manager of The Flat Hat and a founder of the writer’s circle on campus, Novelquest. Email Taylor at trobertson@email.wm.edu

The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.

I feel bad for almost every student when registration comes around. It’s a headache: an early wake up with no assurances of getting any of the classes that you need. You’ll spend a couple good hours trying to figure out the perfect schedule, writing down CRNs and finding good-enough professors. All of this the night before registration, if you’re like me. Because if you’re not a senior, you’ll watch as the days pass as classes fill up and go from OPEN to CLOSED. And then you’ll have to go through the unpredictable process of seeking overrides when inevitably your well-crafted schedule falls apart.

Unless you’re in the business school, that is. Honestly, it’s an extreme privilege: registration is easy. Instead of a professor being your advisor, every single business school student has one of either two advisors, Susan Grainger or Megan Seabury. Of all advisors on campus I’d argue they’re the most helpful, well-informed and … powerful. Powerful is an interesting way to put it, but it’s true. Unlike professors, their sole job is to be our major advisors, ensure we graduate on time and get us into the classes we need. They don’t have to teach courses in addition to those responsibilities. Maybe that’s why we business school students feel well cared for. It’s somebody’s actual job to look out for us.

If your 7 a.m. registration comes around and you somehow don’t get the classes you need, you just have to send your trusted advisor an email and it’s all fixed. No overrides needed. You’ll just be put into the classes you should have in your schedule. That’s power.

And headache prevention.

I’ve even had a fellow finance friend who said he slept through registration, but it all worked out fine. Advisor to the rescue.

So, I feel bad for every student who’s not in the business school when registration comes around. I wish you all had wonderful advisors who knew the ins and outs of course selection, meeting graduation requirements and had the power to snap their fingers and fix a shoddy schedule. It’s a privilege to be a business school student.

One of my professors even told my class last week that the classes as posted on Courselist intentionally have a smaller student cap on them than professors are actually willing to teach. I’m sure this is to leave room for the two business school advisors to field through the dozens of emails they receive and figure out who truly needs to get into what classes. Flexibility. If that happens to be seven students more, or four, or they need to create a new section of a class … well, that’s what seems to happen.

I’ve taken many creative writing courses at the College, for example. I once inquired about getting into the waitlist for a creative writing non-fiction course. I was told I could be number 19 on the waiting list. The course only taught 15! There could be an entire second section, but was it created? No.

I don’t want to blame the creative writing department, they’re amazing.

But the power the business school has to self-regulate and serve its students is woefully unmatched by other departments.

If only every department could have the power to create more sections in line with student demand.

If only every student on campus had an advisor whose priority was to get them into the classes they needed and had the power to ensure that happened.

I’m not saying join the business school, even though it’s lovely. I’m saying we need to be asking the question: why do so many other departments have to kow-tow to what the College says they can offer?

That creative writing professor with 19 students wanting in? He said to me, “I’ve asked Arts & Sciences to consider adding another section, but the odds are not good.” 

If Arts & Sciences professors feel like they’re going to be shut down for attempting to meet student demand for classes … who is taking up the responsibilities of getting students the classes they want and need?

Why does the business school get to take care of its students and other departments get no self-determination?

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