Academic planning is a major challenge

Lila Baltaxe | Senior Graphic Artist

My head was set on my major choice when I arrived at Boston University. I started off as a business major before transferring into economics. Nevertheless, the intra-university transfer did not leave me satisfied. I thought this was the easiest part of the college experience, but oh, was I wrong!

I always heard about students who changed their majors multiple times and feared about finishing on time. Before I knew it, that became my reality.

I’m faced with an existential crisis every night before I sleep — I have so many interests, yet so little time. I often find myself reserving more time for researching major requirements than for homework.

As a freshman, I’ve been told that I have a whole four years to decide my academic and career paths. I know that I will have to settle for only one or two of my interests in the end.

I entered BU with 32 AP credits. I thought this would give me an edge over my peers, potentially allowing me to graduate early. This was far from the truth.

I satisfied prerequisite credits that many of my peers are registering for, so theoretically I can take higher-level courses — but that’s only if they’re not filled up by upperclassmen.

In this sense, I genuinely feel penalized for holding additional credits.

I have held 10 courses on my registration planner at times just to see zero open seats the next day. No matter how excited I get about a course, I immediately become disappointed by how fast they fill up or the fact that they’re only offered in the Fall.

If I can’t take certain courses, how am I supposed to know what I like and dislike early in my college career? Being unable to register for courses students are truly interested in may set them up for a path of unhappiness in their major.

Part of my research for course planning involves browsing BU’s Reddit to view the best and worst classes to take with each professor. As much as I strive to get the “better” professor, these comments are far too subjective as they are dependent on the individual more than any external factors. Nevertheless, my course-planning decisions are affected by the experiences of former BU students as I navigate my way through and example syllabi.

Another fundamental issue with college in general is that courses are relatively subjective based on which professor you have. An A in one section can translate to a B in another section, simply based on the professor’s grading curve. I’d love to prioritize my GPA by taking “easy” courses, but mixed reviews for courses and instructors across every site I view make this exceptionally difficult.

On top of all my conflicting interests, there is the BU Hub.

Sure, most universities have general education requirements, but the Hub is something truly special. One of the reasons I was so excited for college was to seek the independence of being able to explore my interests without being forced into any unnecessary requirements.

I’ve had to rearrange my four-year roadmap numerous times because Hub requirements do not fit into my already tight schedule. Courses like CAS PH159: Philosophy and Film fill up incredibly fast before freshmen even have a chance to add it to their registration planner. For more strict majors like engineering, it becomes increasingly difficult to fit Hub units into one’s schedule. This poses yet another challenge to BU’s already fatally flawed registration process.

The BU Hub is meant to provide students with a diverse, cross-university academic experience to explore their interests beyond their major. However, it has simply turned into annoying requirements that feel like a burden more than something that should be enjoyable.

Throughout the registration process, many of my fellow freshmen friends have been scrambling to get the last few seats in classes like CAS RN101: The Bible. Despite being a 101 class, each section was rapidly filled by upperclassmen for the sought-after three HUB units it satisfies.

Satisfying Hub requirements has made it especially challenging for me to find what I am truly interested in. I understand that I have a long three years ahead of me to continue course planning, but I want a sense of direction. Even if that direction changes one month from now, academic planning every night at 4 a.m. has made something exciting turn into the most stressful period of my time at BU so far.


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