Nothing is more difficult than scheduling a class as an undergraduate. It is harder than Tetris to arrange the time, the classes you want to take, and the classes you should take. Normally, students give up one of these. Furthermore, if you fail to register, the semester will be hell. We’ve heard that signing up for classes is like war for students. Even if was like this in the past, the situation is now getting more harsh as everyone ends up wanting to enroll in the same popular classes.
Because getting a job is becoming harder and harder, the importance of earning good grades is growing bigger. Simply put, students are less interested in spending their time on learning and more interested in getting that ‘easy A’ and searching for ‘honey classes(ggulgang),’ an expression which refers to classes where it’s easy to earn good grades. That’s why the Japanese class for beginners is full of students who can already speak Japanese well. TOEIC class is full of students who have scores above 900 on the TOEIC. This deprives students of the opportunities to learn something by ourselves. In other words, students don’t take classes to learn something anymore. At the same time, the university is changing into a factory for grades and degrees.
It’s not only students who have made this into a reality. There are other reasons, such as employment rates, but the university contributes the most. Some of the departments are shrinking their major classes. Elective major classes are becoming mandatory classes. For this semester, our department has only four major classes for seniors. Two of them are given to those who are completing a course in education. Technically then, there are only two major classes being offered for seniors. If I fail to register for classes, I can’t take any major classes even though I am a senior. Also, most of the major classes are not offered during the vacations. All students have to take the mandatory classes and earn above 130 credits to graduate. As a result, signing up for major classes has always been competitive. It means that there will always be someone who will miss out because he/she couldn’t get in to a class – that someone could be me or you.
Some students have even started to buy and sell seats in classes, like scalping the hottest concert tickets. They usually find each other on Everytime(a timetable application). When they connect to the website at a pre-fixed time, one student – who will get paid a small fee – cancels the class and the other student quickly signs up for the class. Most commonly though, students use Everytime to swap seats with other students, without paying. It sounds a bit over the top, but, if you have to postpose graduation a full semester just for being three credits shy because you failed to sign up for one class, you will understand, and you can see it’s a problem.
In summary, students get stressed from signing up for classes, they have to give up classes they actually want to take, and they end up paying millions of won for an extra semester. Why should students suffer like this? We do have Everytime or Facebook where we can voice our complaints to each other, but we don’t have the proper official medium where we can officially take our complaints and have something done to remedy the situation. Even if we do have something in place to file grievances, I don’t know it works.
I am majoring in English language and literature. Once, my department had an opportunity to talk with professors about the curriculum. Many English major students voiced their opinions about the major classes, and the difficulties surrounding their major, such as the few major classes. Many students wanted more scholarly classes. The professors opened their ears, but there were no changes made because of bureaucratic reasons about which we had no control. The talk was a good opportunity to try to make a difference. However, the problems are still on the students’ hands.
The university exists for students. Students’ complaints have been the same for a long time. It means there has been no change, but there should be change now. I think the reason that there’s no change is because it is a very common problem happening to university students. The problem is still a problem, even if everybody is suffering the same fate. Therefore, I hope Yeungnam University will make more efforts for student’s rights.
Lastly, the chance to take classes in university never returns after graduation. I don’t know how many chances you have left, but I recommend that you consider what you can learn through each class before you choose classes. I know it sounds like the words of a baby in the woods, but don’t forget: university is a cathedral of learning where the biggest variety of options breathe.