Once a week, I face a difficult choice: in which course do I need a better grade, Class A or Class B?
Class A often ends late, swallowing up a good chunk of the prescribed 10-minute passing period with a mandatory quiz. If I leave early, my quiz grade will probably drop by a point or two. But Class B takes place six blocks away, and lateness earns a penalty on my final grade.
Rock, meet hard place.
I’m not the first student to confront this dilemma, and I know I won’t be the last. While some insist that students can easily cover the distance between any two classes in fewer than the allotted 10 minutes, the experimental data disagrees. Our sprawling campus, ideal for long jogs (we love you, Penn Relays!), poses a problem for those of us who begin the day in DRL and end it in McNeil, or Huntsman or the Solomon Laboratories.
College senior Madeleine Schnur faced this uncomfortable experience last year with a schedule that necessitated a quick departure from a neuroscience course in order to reach a second class on time. Besides finding it stressful, she lost a valuable resource, since she couldn’t ask her professor questions after class. The student-professor relationship probably suffered as well.
“I definitely felt disrespectful,” she reflected, “trying to pack up before [the first professor] had finished speaking, and then to the other teacher, when I walked in right after he had started class.”
I don’t mean to sound dramatic — clearly the school won’t collapse if someone shows up to class a few minutes late, and I’ve never heard of a class that students can fail based on tardiness alone. However, the more students I’ve spoken to, the more I realized that lateness constitutes a source of stress for a surprising number of my peers, and it is often out of their control. As I see it, two solutions exist to this problem.
First, students need to leave class on time, which depends largely on professors. Professors want to finish their lectures, a more-than-understandable sentiment, but those extra minutes can deprive students of the time to reach their seats in their next course. Sure, we often look like the lazy, ill-mannered ingrates that we are, shuffling papers and zipping our backpacks five minutes before class ends, but sometimes we actually have a legitimate reason to sprint out the door. When reaching the next class involves two flights of stairs, a set of crowded double doors, six blocks of walking, and somewhere between two and 40 minutes lost in Steiney-D, you lose the end of class just dreading the commute.
Another solution would involve lengthening the passing period. Five more minutes could reduce the minor panic that ensues at 10 till (or 20 after) each hour, allowing students plenty of time to pack up, walk (or bike!) to their next class and settle into a seat before the professor begins speaking. Contrary to what some may believe, students don’t enjoy offending professors — fun activities include “partying” and “eating full meals,” not “wondering if I’m losing participation points in one or more of my classes.”
This semester, as in previous semesters, I’ll alternate weekly between leaving one class early and arriving to the next late. I’ll avoid eye contact with my professors, slink out of or in the door and try to participate as much as possible, attempting to prove that I’m not the slacker I seem to be.
My dilemma isn’t apocalyptic, but it qualifies as something that student government or the administration could definitely begin to solve, which I hope they will. Robert Nelson, director of Undergraduate Education in the Provost’s Office, told me that he has never received a complaint about the time between classes; as Schnur told me, “I’m willing to go on record that it sucks.” In our fast-paced lives, a few more minutes — to collect our thoughts and finish our commutes — would go a long way.
Lindsey Stull is a College senior from Oklahoma City, Okla. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.Comments powered by Disqus
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