When schedules come out for Penn students after advanced registration, many students find themselves stuck without their first choice classes or without classes they need to take for certain requirements. Immediately, Penn students put their courses into Penn Course Notify or Penn Course Alert so they can be notified when these classes open up. That’s normal, and indeed laudable. You should take classes you genuinely want. But the fact that some students are willing to purchase these courses from other students is problematic for several reasons.
First and foremost, students, if they don't have financial aid, already pay anywhere between $76,444 to $78,186 to attend the school. By paying to get a specific course, you’re effectively paying extra for something that should be covered by your tuition. Students who are already on financial aid or otherwise struggle to afford the University cannot afford to pay for specific courses and double-dip with their payments. It is not fair for some students to be able to buy their way into classes and for other students to not be. If only certain Penn students can buy their way into certain classes, then the University is perpetuating an elitist system that discriminates based on class.
Second, students can sometimes get into courses by emailing the professor and expressing their interest. If Penn students really want to take a course, they should try and get in through their professors, not through paying somebody else to drop the class. If the professor says the class is full, the professor will at least know that certain students are passionate about the material and are interested for future semesters.
Thirdly, there is no way to ensure that students who purchase certain courses will actually be able to take those courses. There is no guarantee that when a student drops a course they are selling, the student who purchased it will be the first one to get it. If other students want to take the course, there’s a good chance they put the course in Penn Course Notify or Penn Course Alert and can easily jump into the open slot. What happens then? Will the students get their money back?
Selling courses also tarnishes our relationship with our peers. By selling courses, Penn students form a relationship of buyers and sellers, and not as companions who want to help each other succeed. Classmates are not looked at as peers, but rather as customers or retailers. Students are in situations where they can harm each other's academic careers, out-bid one another, and compete with one another, which only perpetuates Penn’s already competitive culture.
Finally, students could exploit the system by prioritizing classes that are in high demand when they do not actually need them. A student, for instance, could sign up for a popular course with the sole purpose of selling it later on. This would be taking advantage of other students’ desire to take certain courses to graduate, and sell these classes knowing students will need to buy them. Students should not be doing “good” business at the expense of students’ academics.
Selling courses may seem harmless or like a mutually beneficial business decision. However, Penn students should think twice before they sell a popular course. Instead, we ought to think more about our passions and our peers.
ILYSE REISMAN is a College sophomore from Millburn, N.J. studying English and Music. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.