Melissa Miller: Course descriptions need more substance

Let’s be real. As soon as the schedule of classes for next semester came out Monday, the first thing everyone did was check out potential professors on RateMyProfessors.com.

But sometimes, the site just doesn’t cut it when it comes to choosing courses. You might find out who the hottest Spanish professor is, but it won’t necessarily tell you much else.

The Office of the Registrar needs to work to provide more detailed course descriptions on its website. It’s essential that students have a basic understanding of what courses entail before they take them.

While some students might ask to see syllabi from professors prior to registration, some teachers might not oblige, and others will not even respond to emails at all. What’s worse is that certain classes don’t even list a professor until after registration.

There doesn’t seem to be much students can do if they want to learn about a class before it starts, and that is irritating.

I know I’m not the only one frustrated by the online bulletin’s complete lack of specificity in course descriptions. Some departments have already heeded students’ calls for more information and now include detailed course descriptions online so students can see the course’s content, along with possible readings and assignments.

The University Honors Program, for example, updates its website with detailed descriptions at nearly the same time that the Registrar updates the schedule of classes for the coming semester. They list professors, course numbers, readings and which school requirements a course may fulfill.

But this should become the norm, not the exception.

Student satisfaction is key, especially when it comes to choosing classes. We want to know what we are getting ourselves into before the first day of the new semester. If students know more about the courses they sign up for beforehand, they are more likely to be content with their choices.

And if there were more information available online, students wouldn’t need to flock to websites like RateMyProfessors.com. Unless, of course, they were dying to know how sexy a professor is.

Melissa Miller is a sophomore majoring in international affairs.

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