There’s sweat on my brow. My hands are trembling. My Apple Watch just notified me that my heart rate is racing above average and asked me if I need to take a breath. I do Apple Watch, I do.
In front of me sits my computer, tabs open, waiting to reveal to me my destiny; my fate.
It’s time to register for classes for next semester.
As a junior preparing to begin my spring semester, I was under the impression that I’d finally be able to enroll in all the classes I have so diligently planned out in my four-year plan. It’s almost as if – and stay with me here – I thought that registration would get easier as I continued my journey through college and racked up credits.
Boy was I wrong.
When touring Chapman, I remember relishing in the small sizes of the classes. An average class size of 23? Pinch me! I had classes in my high school with twice the amount of students.
Smaller-sized universities are praised as being beneficial for their students due to their personalized education, their increased interaction between students and professors and the engaging community experience that defines small class sizes. But what’s not talked about, the dirty secret that is conveniently ignored, is that these amazingly small class sizes make it incredibly difficult to register.
Since most classes have a cap at around 30, it’s not that surprising that seats fill up quickly in the popular and required courses. When I was a freshman, I remember fighting tooth-and-nail to earn a seat in my entry-level French course. “Don’t worry,” I was told, “it gets easier when you’re an upperclassmen!” I thought, “Don’t stress Zach! There’s plenty of time and space for you in all the courses you need. Go Panthers!”
The reality is that when you get older, there are in fact plenty of seats available for you in those entry-level courses. What’s difficult, however, is securing a spot in those elective courses that you need to take in order to finish your degree. Instead of everyone your age fighting over seats in an entry-level course, they’ve progressed to fighting over seats in the upper division courses. I can never win.
And the popular courses – the ones with the cool professors, the ones that everyone tells you that you have to take before you graduate, the ones from 2:30 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. every Tuesday and Thursday – those ones are even worse. They fill up before I can even call out in agony.
Which brings me back to where we are now. Lo and behold, in front of me sits my computer screen teasing me with my fate. I’ve been stressing about enrollment for weeks now and it’s time to see if I have to suffer on the waitlist for the next couple months, or if I can triumphantly tell my friends my upcoming schedule without breaking into hysterical tears.
I guide my mouse to a new tab, open up my.chapman.edu and click on the dreaded “Search for Classes” button. I shut my eyes, say a quick prayer and click on “Plan.”
God, if you’re real, let me see five green circles glowing at me in the light of my computer. Let these green circles guide me like the green light guided Gatsby. Let me enroll in these classes with ease, so that I may have this perfect schedule I’ve created, so that I can sleep in until noon every day and so that I don’t have to go to class on Friday.
And what do I see blinking before me? Three of my classes are waitlisted. The horrific, horrendous, ugly yellow triangles glow back at me. Mocking me. Maybe it’s not too bad, maybe I’ll be the first or second person on the waitlist. A boy can dream.
I’m number 15 in one class, 11 in another and 18 in the last. Awesome.