Overlapping class meeting times leaves students stressed out

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After taking virtual classes for over a year, Stanford students are eager to return for in-person learning, especially sophomores and aspiring sophomores.

However, before even setting foot on campus, several students faced an unusual scheduling hurdle: Class section times overlapped, typically only for 15 minutes. In previous years, course planning was done in non-overlapping blocks, and new conflicts are the product of pandemic considerations, according to a spokesperson for the University.

While seemingly small, these time conflicts are frustrating inconveniences for some undergraduates trying to chart their schedules during fall enrollment.

With instruction planned for fully in-person learning, students interviewed by The Daily said they need to decide whether to take two conflicting courses in the next 10 weeks or postpone a course – which may be necessary to their major – in a future term or academic year.

“I hate being late in some places,” said Alessandra Maranca ’24.

Maranca found herself in a difficult position when she enrolled in SOC 379: “Network Analysis Methods” and MATH 171: “Fundamental Concepts of Analysis,” two courses that she “really wanted. to follow “. With SOC 379 ending at 11:15 a.m. and MATH 171 starting at 11 a.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, Maranca said she emailed her math teacher to explain her situation, writing that she would be 15 minutes late each time. Classes.

Fortunately, the two classes aren’t far apart, and her math class operates like a lecture, meaning less stringent attendance and participation metrics. Maranca said she hopes it works.

“It definitely made me nervous,” she said. “But I thought it was worth going through even with all the anxiety.”

The changes to the class schedule for this academic year are the first in some time. Documents provided to The Daily by student affairs spokesperson Pat Lopes Harris give a more complete picture of the new schedule compared to previous years.

Previously, the University-approved class schedule called for classes to start on the hour or half hour, and sessions last 50 or 80 minutes. Between classes, students were given a 10-minute break to allow movement on campus.

Currently, class meeting schedules have implemented 60- or 90-minute time slots and created 15-minute breaks. The new, longer break time is intended to “reduce the density of students in the tight hallways between classes,” Harris said.

An increase in the total number of students enrolled, renovations to several teaching spaces and COVID-19 security measures for classrooms have led to these schedule updates. The 15-minute period between classes will be adjusted as needed in the coming quarters based on COVID conditions, Harris added.

Due to the new changes, students are faced with a 15-minute schedule overlap for the courses they prefer to take in the same term.

Samantha Thomas ’24, a major in Biomedical Computing, attempted to add PHYSICS 41: “Mechanics” and BIO 83: “Biochemistry and Molecular Biology” into her plans for the fall term. Like other students, Thomas noted that PHYSICS 41 and BIO 83 – two core courses required for his major and offered only for certain terms – overlapped on Wednesday and Friday mornings. Thomas remembered his fall schedule and the anxiety that came with it.

“When I saw that they were overlapping, I panicked because I kind of needed to get them both in,” she said.

Fortunately for her, the PHYSICS 41 courses will take place virtually in the fall, which will allow her to follow BIO 83 in parallel. Yet Thomas anticipates that obstacles may arise.

“It’s going to be stressful knowing that I’m going to be entering the biology session a bit late,” she added. “I predict that even though it is not a conference, there will still be important information that they will talk about.”

Others could not fit everything into their schedule, dropping out altogether.

For Ting Lin ’24, signing up for both COMM 166: “Virtual People” and LINGUIST 110: “Introduction to Phonology” this fall was ideal for her major. Both are required for a symbolic systems degree, and both courses are offered only each fall term.

However, upon taking a closer look at the class schedules, Lin said she realized that COMM 166 was encroaching on the Friday section of LINGUIST 110, which runs from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. COMM 166 ending at 11:15 am, she could not afford to follow both at the same time. Instead, it ended up replacing COMM 166 with ENGLISH 108A: “Intro to Disability Studies: Disability and Technology”.

“It really sucks to have to drop out of a course that isn’t offered in any other term,” Lin said. “It fits perfectly into my schedule if we ignore the overlap, but I guess I’m going to have to manage. ”

Other students have expressed fear that pushing classes back to future quarters will hamper their academic plans and progress. Johnny Dollard ’24 decided to take PHYSIQUE 41 over MATH 53: differential equations with linear algebra, Fourier methods and modern applications, but he worries that pushing back MATH 53 will require more rigorous study in the future.

“It was in the winter quarter [of 2021] since I took MATH 51, ”Dollard said. “The longer I wait, the more it fades, and the more I will have to see again.”

Some students pursue a combined major and minor, such as Laney Conger ’24. Hoping to earn a major in Earth Systems and a minor in Spanish, Conger will juggle two overlapping Earth Systems and Spanish courses. Nonetheless, she anticipates that she may have to give up her Spanish course if managing her schedule becomes too much to manage.

“I am concerned that completing my major and minor will be almost impossible,” Conger said.

Thomas Hayden, director of the Earth Systems Master of Arts in Environmental Communication program, confirmed that co-sessional students he works with have experienced “new or unexpected” scheduling conflicts.

“We are working with students to find alternative courses they can take to meet the requirements now, and when we can, we will make further changes to the courses we control to avoid duplication in the years to come,” Hayden said. “My advice to students facing scheduling conflicts is to contact the student services specialist in their department or program.

In an email to The Daily, Harris acknowledged the new changes and also recommended that people with scheduling issues seek advice from departments and advisers.

“Departments strive to reduce, as much as possible, the possibility of overlapping classes in the same field of study,” Harris wrote. “Students who need help navigating these changes can contact their academic advisors. “


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