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Senior scheduling: Security for the last time

By Marissa Stipek, Opinion Editor

The spring semester course schedule and registration time tickets are now viewable on BannerWeb.

For many students, just seeing this notification is enough to send a chill down their spine and trigger a fight-or-flight rush of anxious adrenaline. They cringe with dread thinking about the morning they will wake up early and fight the faceless villain that is class registration.

But not me. For me, seeing the course listing provokes a different kind of reaction: excitement.

I count down the days to when the list will be released so I can explore my options for the upcoming semester.

I love looking over the classes I need and trying to piece them together into a weekly schedule like a virtual Rubik's Cube.

I love filling in the blanks, customizing my search for classes.

Campus: Oxford

Level: Undergraduate

I love the second of suspense between when I submit these requirements and when a list of available options is returned to me.

When my scheule is complete, I feel a sense of contentment, knowing that I have a purpose. I know exactly what I am supposed to be doing - at least for the next semester of my life.

Maybe I feel this way because I've never had a bad scheduling experience. I've never been shut out of a class I absolutely had to take. I've never had the misfortune to get stuck in a 4:00 p.m. lecture on a Friday.

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Or maybe I'm just a nerd who gets too excited about my academic endeavors. Maybe my brain is hardwired for sorting and listing and organizing, and the format of class scheduling satisfies that need.

This week, when the course schedule was released, I immediately logged on to check it out. I had a little more apprehension than usual because next semester is my last - whether it is finishing up requirements or getting into that rock-climbing class I've been wanting to take, this is my final chance to cram all that I can into a 15 week period.

Even more nerve-wracking is it's also the last time I will be able to see the options for my future, organized neatly in a drop-down menu.

And that makes me anxious.

If only there were some kind of master list of all the possibilities that exist for me after college. I could simply select the one I want and if it was a good match, I would be assigned.

If only I could filter my prospects by location, salary and other criteria. I could enter all of these preferences, and some computer algorithm would spit out career options perfectly tailored to my wants and needs.

If only there were a neat little checklist with which to plan my life.

But there's not. For years we follow rules and follow plans as if they are maps, promising to lead us to a successful future. We go through elementary school and middle school, and eventually high school, where people start asking us about the next step. It is assumed or at least encouraged that we attend college, and so we do. In college we are expected to pick a major, get involved in extra-curriculars that align with our interests and hopefully secure an internship.

But then what?

Then the path we are walking trails off, or splits in a million different directions and there is no clear destination. It's up to us to determine our own ending points.

So while it is scary that college is the last time I will know exactly what I need to do, its also exciting.

Instead of being constrained by what's offered to me, I get to go out and look for opportunities. I'm not limited to a small selection of locations or fields, but rather I can go anywhere, do anything.

There is no single track that's "right," which means it's also a lot harder to get it wrong. I don't have to quantify what I'm doing based on how much closer its getting me to some ultimate goal, but rather I can enjoy the ride and see where I end up.