Image courtesy of catholic.edu
By Franchetta Groves
Course selection and registration for the upcoming semester can always cause stress to the student who is trying to make the most out of their academic career. Many students worry they will miss a necessary credit or that they will make the wrong decision in choosing which classes they will take. Added to the stress this year was the noticeable difference in the number of classes available to students in certain departments. According to an Instagram poll, 64% of students saw limitations in the number of classes they had to select from.
“I had a pretty tough time picking my classes for this coming semester because it’s about time to pick a focus within my media major, but there are not many electives to do so,” said sophomore media and communication studies major Katie Paiva. “Because of this, I wanted to take more of my liberal arts requirements but there were only one or two electives offered from that department which would fit in with the rest of my schedule.”
The Department of Media and Communication Studies is not the only school having troubles with limited classes. Some students in the Busch School of Business were having a hard time enrolling in classes that are mandatory for their major.
“I’m in the business school and one of the classes I needed had only two sections, then only a couple days before [registration] it was deleted and went down to one section,” commented sophomore Amanda Service. “I had to rework my whole schedule and find another class that fit the same requirement.”
Other departments that faced limitations this semester included the psychology and Department of English. Fortunately, the Department of Psychology recognized this need and followed up with students announcing that they would be adding more classes to meet the demand. However, the Department of English faces struggles this semester due to understaffing and many of the unknowns from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The number of professors and graduate students in the English Department has decreased over the last several years because of retirements and reductions in graduate student funding,” explained Dr. Daniel Gibbons, director of English Undergraduate Studies. “We have only been able to replace one of the five professors who retired recently, and we no longer have enough graduate students to make it possible for advanced doctoral students to offer literature courses for non-majors.”
Along with this, some professors are on leave in the spring for various reasons. This is similar to the struggles which the Department of Media and Communication Studies is currently facing. As of 2018, three of the six full-time faculty members retired or decided to teach at different schools. However, the department was not authorized to begin the hiring process until late 2019.
“During most of my 16 years at CUA the Media and Communication Studies Department had six full-time faculty members and drew on faculty from English and Comparative Literature,” said Dr. Alexander Russo, director of Media and Communication Undergraduate Studies. “In the last several years’ faculty have left for a variety of reasons but only one of those positions has been replaced and we have not received equivalent amounts of money to hire visiting or adjuncts to meet the number of classes those faculty offered. “
The Department of English, however, is working towards providing funding for teaching assistants for classes with over thirty students. While this will not allow for more classes, it may allow for more seats in some of the more popular classes.
Even for students who didn’t face these troubles to the same extent, it was “definitely noticeable” that there were fewer classes when registering.
As the university faces the struggles of trying to reopen in the spring semester many financial decisions have had to be made meaning that fewer courses can be offered to students and sacrifices are continuing to be made. Students on the other hand are having to make sacrifices and work towards the continued goal of academic success, in their desired field and classes. It is a challenge that must be addressed by both faculty and students if there is to be any hope of overcoming the challenges that the pandemic has created.