Senior struggles with large course load


There is about a month to go until the class of 2016 graduates. As a graduating senior coming to the tail end of the school year, I feel that I should be able to relax somewhat. Instead, lately I find myself more stressed than ever as I work on getting everything accomplished before April is up.

You see, I signed up for a class to fulfill my diversity requirement. It’s a psychology class, which is a department that is not affiliated with either of my majors, so I did not know anything about what the class, the teacher or the workload would be like. I was drawing on my experience with the introductory psychology class I took in high school, which was one of the easiest classes I’ve ever taken. I figured that since the class counted as a core requirement, I wouldn’t need to know too much about psychology to get a good grade.

To be fair, the class itself isn’t bad. It’s interesting and informative, and I am genuinely fascinated by the things I’m learning. The problem is the workload. It’s a lot more than I expected, on a timetable that is difficult to work with—we are assigned 90-110 pages of reading on an average Friday, and we are expected to have read it all and submitted reading comments by noon on Sunday.

For me, the work for this class completely messed with the weekend schedule I have developed over my four years here—that is, Fridays are usually for relaxing, and Sunday mornings are for sleeping in after whatever I did Saturday night. Not to mention I had planned for the weekends to be mostly about internship work, since my evenings on weekdays are mostly filled up with either working on the newspaper or with dance classes. That hasn’t really been possible and it’s frustrating, to say the least.

If I had known that the workload for this class would be this strenuous, I would have tried a different diversity class for my final semester of college. However, that can be said for other classes that I have taken in other years. There are some semesters where I have the unfortunate luck of getting all teachers that assign long essays at around the same time, and it’s hard to predict if that will be the case when I sign up for classes each semester.

Right now, there are very few ways I could have known what classes will be like in enough time to make the decision of whether or not to take them. The options I have are either try and track down the teacher—if they are on campus or have been confirmed to teach the class— or figure out if friends have previously taken that class with that teacher. That can be difficult to do before I have to sign up for the class.

There should be a section on the Susquehanna University website, either a separate page or under each teacher’s personal staff page, that consists of nothing but a brief summary—as little as one to two sentences if necessary—of the kind of work each teacher makes his or her students do for the classes they teach. These summaries can let students know whether the teacher assigns more essays or tests, how much reading on average students have to do, whether pop quizzes should be expected—that sort of thing. That way, students can easily look up what to expect from each class or teacher and therefore better plan which group of classes to take each semester.

I think that being able to see what the workload will be like ahead of time will allow students to better balance their schoolwork each semester, ensuring that some classes require less work than others and allowing students some capacity to relax. And while there is no way to know for sure without testing such a system, I have a feeling that knowing more about the workload for each class and teacher will lead to fewer dropped classes, since students will be forewarned as to what is expected of them.

While my time as Susquehanna was a mostly happy one and I wouldn’t change much from these past four years, I feel that a change such as the one I described would have helped me a lot as I chose my classes, especially for this final semester. And I feel like that little bit of extra information could help a lot of students to come as they choose how each semester will run.