Budget cuts mean crowded classrooms

In Opinion
One of my professors is in the middle of implementing an insane idea for her class: she wants to divide the class into two, so that 40 of us come on one of the class days and the other 40 of us come on the other.

Personally, it sounds like a really creative idea to make the class less impersonal and more engaging (Oh, right, and the whole “Class just once a week!? Hells yeah!” definitely comes into play.) But it highlights a problem that basically the entirety of Cal State Fullerton seems to be having: there are too many of us and there are not enough classes to accommodate everyone.

With a number of undisclosed classes being cut last year according to the Orange County Register, the problem is only exacerbated.

Overcrowding starts to look like a legitimate problem when I’m investing more attention to the adamant people standing throughout an entire lecture because of how impressed I am by the sheer determination of it all.

Then again, it’s not entirely abnormal to see classes packed with eager students. That’s just how college is sometimes. There’s a reason why we have those Roman Colosseum-esque lecture halls for some of the heavily-requested classes, but just because that’s how it is, it doesn’t necessarily make it right.

Back to my professor’s crazy, awesome idea: The reasoning behind it was that her intersession class for this course did tremendously well and only 24 students were in it.

Basically, smaller classes equate to greater involvement from students and the professor.

This is anecdotal evidence more than anything, but the class average was apparently so good that she’s willing to cut basically half the semester for all of us if that means there’s far less of us in any given class day.

And I think that’s the principal problem with crowded classes.

When there’s so much of us to teach with only one professor at the helm, the entire experience of learning and attaining new knowledge suffers as a result. We’re blasted with words, phrases and definitions and, while we do what we can to absorb it all, there’s very little opportunity to actively apply it in active discussion and class activities.

See, the problem isn’t a physical one. It’s not like we’re scrunched up elbow-to-elbow struggling to even write a single note down. No, the problem is how a professor’s message gets diluted when trying to reach hundreds at a time, to get them to listen, and to care.

Take, for example, a quote from the Sacramento Bee from Cal State Sacramento student Stayza Albrecht: “I shouldn’t have to sit in the hallway and not hear anything.”

It’s a common scenario, isn’t it?

It’s also awfully impersonal. When the professor doesn’t know someone by name because of the sheer amount of students in a class, it gets me to care less.

Maybe it’s just me, but if a professor knows me and even strikes up a water-cooler chat before the start of class, I suddenly start thin king, “Oh god, I hope I don’t disappoint this guy,” and then I wind up getting a good grade. Usually.

I know that, for the most part, crowding will continue to be an issue.

Factor in more budget cuts, which leads to cut classes, which then leads to students taking a completely avoidable semester if it weren’t for the cuts, which leads to more of us still attending college, which finally takes us to the issue we have now.

It’s a bummer to know that this isn’t a problem that will be fixed anytime soon, so we’ll have to do what we can.

Sit up in front, tell the person next to you to hold onto the batteries to your phone and listen as if everything depended on it, like your ability to graduate, which is probably true anyway.

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