Course selection at Boston College is incredibly tough. We boast small class sizes, but for all the students we have, there are only so many spots in any given course. Depending on what you’re studying, it may even be the case where there aren’t enough classes given the number of students in the major (like political science).
All BC students have experienced the frustration of not getting a class they wanted or missing out on a preferred professor for the dreaded econometrics class. UIS triggers a lot of stress and trepidation amongst BC undergrads.
But for an in-season student-athlete, course registration proves to be almost as hard as a calculus final. It is time for BC to join many other ACC schools and provide its athletes with priority course registration.
Why? Let’s use baseball as an example. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday start with mandatory lift from 7:30 to 9 a.m. While this does not cast aside all 9 a.m. classes, they certainly aren’t encouraged as you have to leave team lift early and rush up the Million Dollar stairs, still sweating when you get to class. Participating and paying attention is much tougher when you are slightly out of breath. So, the ideal time for class is 10 to 12, but, we usually have games on Wednesday and Fridays. On game days, we are generally leaving for the field anywhere from 12-12:30 p.m., which means you’re not going to your 12 o’clock class as often as twice a week. So, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I can only take classes at 10, and 11. Given my major of Political Science, how many classes are offered at 10 or 11? Just one, that was closed, and my plead for an override was denied.
Now, let’s talk about Tuesdays and Thursdays. While we don’t have morning lift, we generally have games on Tuesdays, while Thursdays are a big travel day. So, classes are usually scheduled at 9 and 10:30 a.m., with the 12 p.m. classes again being very discouraged. This semester, I am taking a Tuesday/Thursday at 12, but there was a stretch where, due to games and travel, I had not been to the class for an entire month. I wasn’t deliberately skipping class because I didn’t want to go—due to all the games and travel, I couldn’t make it to class for a month straight. Basically, I can only realistically take classes at 9 and 10:30 a.m. in the spring. How many political science classes were offered at 9 and 10:30 this semester? There were four classes offered at 9, but none at 10:30 that were open to me, either because I had already taken the course or because it was deemed intro-level.
I have run into this sort of scheduling nightmare every semester, so most times I will email multiple professors, explain my situation, and pray for an override. Sometimes I will receive mercy, while other times I just get a hard no. I understand that professors and classrooms only have so much space, and I also realize that sometimes it is impossible to give an override. Some professors and departments are quite accommodating, while others are somewhat callous to the issue. I have gotten responses from departments such as “Well, academics come before athletics,” or, “You should quit baseball for the pursuit of academia.”
It doesn’t work that way.
There is the counter argument that the situation of athletes is no different than a normal student who has a job. Well, I would argue that it is significantly different. First, you can make your work schedule fit your class schedule, and you can pick what shifts to pick up and which ones to drop. I don’t have a choice of which practices to go to, and I can’t decide which games I will attend or trips I will not go on. Second, a college sport is already a full-time job, with in-season time spent devoted to the sport regularly exceeding 40 hours. How many BC students have a legitimate 40+ hour work week in addition to the standard five-course workload? And, of those that do have a full-time job, how many are traveling across the country, missing classes for 6-8 weeks in the semester? Even fewer.
Additionally, student-athletes aren’t being paid. What about those of us that need jobs in addition to school and sports? I do. I work in game day operations for other sporting events at BC, and I also flip the basketball floor as part of Bull gang. While these are not full time jobs, they are additional time commitments that I have to consider. Students can pick and choose the jobs they take, and more or less the shifts they pick up—athletes are given the strict practice and game schedule that they must adhere to.
I understand that all students have difficulty picking classes. But there is a difference between difficult and the borderline impossible situation athletes face. In fact, many majors are completely off limits to student-athletes. For instance, I have never met another college baseball player majoring in biology on the pre-med track because the time commitments are simply too much.
I’m not trying to complain or sound bitter because there are many, many perks and benefits to being a college athlete. But at an institution that is as competitive as BC, picking class is simply unfair. BC is a really tough academically, why make it even tougher when you have to consistently settle for the classes that are either less interesting or passed over because of an unpopular professor. Do you ever watch a college football game and wonder why so many of the players major in things like “Parks and Recreation” or “Sports Management?” That’s why. Athletes are too often put in a bind over taking a required class yet still remaining fully committed to their sport. But it is so easy to fix this problem.
It is no secret that many student-athletes at BC would have no shot of acceptance on their own academic merit. Like it or not, they are here, and they deserve every chance to succeed. Under the current system, it is really tough.
Again, I am not trying to sound whiny and entitled, but I think there is enough proof. BC should give athletes priority registration. Our academic peers in the ACC such as Duke, Virginia, and Wake Forest all give their athletes early access to course choosing. It is time for BC to do the same.
Featured Graphic by Nicole Chan / Graphics Editor