For some Wesleyan students, those first two weeks back at school are relaxing, enjoyable even. Dubbed “syllabus week” by many, this time offers a period of no work and no stress. The rush from stepping away from the Netflix screen, after six weeks of isolation at home, and returning to society at all might be enough for some.
Students arrive back on campus from winter break or studying abroad with ambitious study habits and a longing for friends, with whom they have been separated from for far too long. I share no part in this celebration for the commencement of the semester, for after my five previous semesters at Wesleyan the beginning of the year has solely become synonymous with the chaotic nightmare also known as Drop/Add.
As a wee freshman in the fall of 2012, I too must have appreciated the lack of rigor in my schedule those first few weeks. This is true for most freshmen entering Wesleyan with a full schedule of four classes. In fact, most first years are completely naïve to the horrors of Drop/Add until their second semester, having been coddled with pre-registered classes upon their arrival. False advertising.
I remember staring at the bizarre ranking chart during the pre-registration for my second semester freshman year, wondering why there were nine potential slots to rank classes. I didn’t want nine courses; I wanted the four preferred courses for which my $47,702 tuition was paying. My advisor attempted to justify the process by letting me know that if I don’t get all of my classes this go-around, I can fight for them during Drop/Add next semester. This gave me little reassurance. I didn’t feel up to dueling with my fellow classmates for the open spots in classes, which I so mistakenly believed to be an inherent part of enrollment at Wesleyan.
Isn’t it enough that we are all accepted into the University and paying $63K to be here? Now we have to fight for our classes too? Next, we will be pulling connections to get into Intro to Cultural Anthropology. Yet somehow this has become the norm.
The spring before my junior year, I learned the hard way, and received no classes after pre-registration. My situation was apparently a very unfortunate incident where my advisor, after our meeting, never officially approved my schedule. My Dean assured me that this was very uncommon and that at least my adjustment period would be earlier than other students. How was this supposed to comfort me? Now I could add a class that I was moderately interested in a day before everyone else, solving absolutely nothing.
The system was incredibly flawed and I felt completely helpless. Come the fall of my junior year, I found myself stalking professors in order to gain admittance into their classes. I sent email after email and lurked near their offices, blinded by my desperation to find four classes that fulfilled both of my major requirements and fit into my schedule as a student-athlete. In this two-week state of chaos and desperation, I grew increasingly annoyed at the ignorantly blissful freshmen sitting around me, already enrolled in the class over a junior major. Yet, I had been that freshman, smiling and unaware of the wide-eyed, crazy junior growling at me from two rows back.
In my six completed Drop/Adds at Wesleyan, I can confidently say that you cannot escape this flawed and unjust system. I have learned that every professor is subjective and some are harsher than others. It is in your best interest to go to the first day of class for any course you are trying to add, yet you must still attend the class that you eventually wish to drop. In other words, accept that you will be going to eight different classes for the first week of school. Some teachers will cut straight to the point and kick you out of the class immediately, while others will string you along for two weeks, only to deny you minutes before Drop/Add closes while maniacally laughing. Everything is possible; therefore, you must always secure backups. In fact, your backups should have backups.
This past semester I was lucky enough to eventually be admitted into every class that I wanted. That being said, I still attended seven different classes during those two weeks of Drop/Add. I found dropping a class from my schedule in order to make room for another to be strangely gratifying—for once, the roles were reversed. Now that students are beginning to settle into academic routines and work is seriously picking up, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and to complain about the work that lies ahead. In these moments, we must take a second to appreciate and celebrate successfully enduring and completing Drop/Add unscathed.
Majewski is a member of the Class of 2016.