Sunday, November 25, 2012

Waitlist Woes

Although they abolished it for incoming classes, my class is required, as part of the degree, to take a Strategy course. On a related note, in order to obtain a concentration in Strategy, one needs to have taken three elective courses in Strategy. The Strategy course selection has been very very slim. Classes that have "Strategy" in the title are not necessarily considered for the Strategy concentration; there are extremely few courses (I've only seen one) that have dealt with Strategy in a concentrated form.

I was looking over my class selections at the beginning of the Mini and realised that I could take an extra class. I'm a bit of a sucker for getting my money's worth of education from this institute, and the course title "Renewable Corporate Strategy" seemed to be great - a pure strategy course that meets on Thursday nights. This would mean that I would have a class on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, but I've found I'm starting to prefer night classes so this wasn't a problem. I register for it, and discover I'm number 12 on the waitlist.

Now, Tepper has a little-known and not-well-enforced policy that states this:

"All students admitted to any course with a waiting list must attend the first class, unless notified otherwise. No-shows may lose their space to other waitlisted students unless they receive prior permission to miss class by contacting the professor."

 In a prior handbook, I believe it also stated that if a student did not attend the first day of class, without reasonable notice to the professor, then that student stood a chance of getting dropped from the class and a student from the waitlist would take her/his place.

I was made aware of this policy in a class I took last mini - Managing Intellectual Capital - since the professor enforces this strictly. His classes are very popular, and so he makes pains to ensure that only those who are truly interested (i.e. the ones who show up) are the ones that get the privilege of getting taught by him. For some naive reason, I thought this was how a lot of super-popular classes worked. I was wrong.

I turn up to the Strategy class, and the room is nearly full to busting. It's OK - I participate in the class and really enjoy the topics of discussion. Later, I mention to the Professor that I am on the waitlist, and he purses his lips and says that although 3-4 students typically drop the class, it may not be possible for me to participate just because of where I am.

Next week, the classroom is noticeably emptier. In fact, he passed out tent name cards and a large stack was left over. I had been told previously, by another classmate also on the waitlist, that she had been removed from the waitlist and put into the class through intervention by Student Services. I looked eagerly myself, but I was now number 7.

For the first half of the class, I was somewhat upset - I am there, someone on the waitlist wanting to get an education from this professor in this class, and yet there were a good number of people who chose to skip the class, who had taken their seat for granted. What was worse is that, when I looked through the tentcards, I saw a few names on there who were participating in a brewery tour that was happening at the same time!

I talked to the Professor again about my chances of getting in the class, pointing out the large number of people who didn't turn up. I also mentioned the policy that some professors (ahem, above) adhered to, and how it was not right that I, an eager student, wouldn't be able to join the class, especially given how some students aren't taking their academic duties seriously. He seemed genuinely concerned, but torn because it was "fair" that the students who originally got in the class should be able to stay in the class. He promised to talk to Student Services for me. Coincidentally, this was the last day to Add/Drop classes, and thus my last chance.

The next day, I awaken to an email from Student Services telling me that I had been dropped from the waitlist, and that they were very sorry that they weren't able to accommodate all the students who wanted to take the class. Then they drivelled on about how they've dropped the Strategy concentration requirement to just 2 Strategy electives, and also allowed for some of the courses with "strategy" in the title, like Pricing Strategy, Technology Strategy, Brand Strategy, to be also considered as part of the Strategy concentration, provided that one of the more Strategy-centric courses was also taken.

I was not interested in taking the course to complete a requirement or a concentration, but for the education I would receive since it was a pure Strategy course and didn't deal with theoretics (like Game Theory). It seems as though the focus was on providing a core Strategy class for the first years than to provide any significant or relevant strategy class for the rest of the school, and thus we missed out. I also feel that there should be an enforced "turn up to the first class or you'll get dropped" for the classes with a long waitlist. To me, "fairness" is having all the students interested in the education from the class be there, and not those who just had it as a choice. But that also, in this case, opens up the can of worms that is my disagreement with having to take "requirement" electives in order to graduate. Thankfully they removed it from the subsequent classes and replaced it with a core class, but oh, it really sucks when I'm pre-registering for a class and I have to give up a class I want to take to take a class I have to take.

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