Simply put, signing up for classes sucks. Invariably, the university’s computers always assign you a pass time that just so happens to fall at the worst possible time on the worst possible day. Personally, I’ve had pass times occur during Parents’ Weekend, during work shifts, and even during times when I was supposed to be in class – a phenomenon that makes even less sense when you consider that the same system that assigns pass times also holds my entire class schedule and therefore should know that it’s pretty hard to be online and in lecture at the same time.
Once you do make it to the screen where you sign up for classes, there’s always the inevitable issues of limited class space, restricted class admissions, and balancing the fact that you need a science class to graduate, but the only one that fits your already-full schedule meets at 8 a.m. and requires far more left-brain functioning than you can muster at any time of the day, let alone before noon. Suffice it to say, the whole thing is an incredibly frustrating process and one that most people just try to get through as quickly and efficiently as possible.
But last week, as I was picking out classes to ask my boyfriend to sign up for on my behalf – this particular pass time happened to fall while I was at work – I realized that this time around was the last time I would ever experience the agony, anticipation, and aggravation of signing up for a new quarter’s worth of classes. And, to be honest, the thought made me a little sad. Sure, I definitely won’t miss the stress of sign-ups, but I am sad that there are so many interesting, intriguing, and just plain insane options available to UCSB students when it comes to the college’s course catalogue – and that it is so ridiculously difficult to take advantage of them all. For example, although my schedule for spring now consists of the captivating combination of a seminar on pornography, a class on animal communication, and a class in creative nonfiction, those are only the tip of the proverbial class scheduling iceberg. And even they came at the cost of a lot of my time, effort, and eyesight spent squinting at the fine print in this year’s current course catalogue. After all, there are so many other creative course offerings in the UCSB’s ever-growing catalogue.
For example, you can learn every language from Elementary Yiddish to Advanced Arabic. The French Department offers courses in Western Love, Tales of Love and Honor, and even Religion and Skepticism (for the grad student set); a combination that speaks to the stereotypical Francophone cultural experience, if ever there was one. The Religious Studies Department will teach you Zen, Islam in the West, and Religious Healing in Native American Culture, along with the Teachings of Jesus.
In the English Department, you can study Science Fiction or take an entire class devoted to The Bible as Literature. The Writing Department offers workshop-style courses covering everything from Writing for New Media to Writing for Accounting and Journal Writing. In the Art Studio Department, you can take Photography, Painting, Drawing and even a class called “Digital Media ToolBox.” The Film Studies Department offers the aforementioned pornography seminar, as well as a larger class on porn, and classes on Women in Film, Internet Writing, Film Noir, and Comedy. In the sciences, you can take The Biology of Cancer, a class on Geological Catastrophes, and a class in Third World Environmental Development, just to name a few. Essentially, with over 200 majors, degrees, and credentials offered, UCSB has a veritable smorgasbord of courses available to its students. And sure, finding them is hard, signing up for them is a massive pain, and actually getting past all the prerequisites and restrictions to make it into a popular class is damn near impossible. But, it’s not entirely unthinkable. Still, if there’s one thing that my last pass time taught me, it’s that taking advantage of the preponderance of tiny-print on the many pages of a particular quarter’s course catalogue is well worth the time, effort, and aggravation. Even if all you have to show for it is admission to an entire seminar devoted exclusively to porn-which really isn’t all that bad of a booby prize anyway.