By Becca Hoekstra
Remember when the first day of school used to be exciting?
You’d show up, fresh from an awesome break, backpack full of shiny new school supplies, blank notebooks full of nothing but potential. If you were exceptionally dorky (I won’t mention any names here), you’d have taken the time to carefully write your name on each and every item — including all those new colored pencils. Your schedule would be set, and you’d be totally prepared to tackle the next semester of classes.
Now, it’s a living nightmare.
It’s a panic-inducing frenzy of fighting to get into packed classes you NEED in order to graduate/transfer/whatever. That English class? It’s got a full enrollment of 32, plus a wait list of 15, and you’re not on either. The teacher basically tells you to get the hell out of her class; she needs that floor space for registered students. And I do mean floor space — fat chance there are enough desks. Some of us want this to be our last semester at City College, but with these kinds of odds, we could be stuck here FOREVER.
Nothing feels safe without that precious add code in your hands. Students with priority registration dates could probably make a killing on the black market, weaseling their way into high-demand classes and redistributing those precious stickers for personal profit.
The number of orientation classes we go to in one day is astounding. Every teacher starts the school year with a spiel on coursework, attendance policies, exams, reading materials, etc. It all starts to blend together by the end of the day… or maybe that’s just because it’s practically the same talk from every teacher, the same talk you heard however many times last semester, and the one before that. And for those not yet registered in a class, sitting through that monotony and then finding out you’re STILL not accepted is enough to send you into a week-long coma where the only sound is your brain screaming.
And every year, EVERY SEMESTER, there’s that teacher who lays down that “school is like a job” speech that motivates exactly no-one. You know what I mean: “If you don’t do your work, and don’t show up, you’re going to get dropped. They wouldn’t put up with that in the real world, when you have a job.” You know what’s actually different about having a job? They PAY you, and don’t give you work to do at home (most of the time). Now shut up and teach me something so I can go GET a job, or at least entertain the possibility of finding one.
Don’t forget the joy of being exposed to probably hundreds of new germs in a single day. Those thousands of new, eager, fresh-minded students are crawling with diseases they’ve collected over break doing who knows what. (You’re included in this, reader.) As I write, I’ve only had two days of school — and I’m already a sniffly, sore-throated bedridden mess. Please, do the rest of us a favor and at least cover your damned mouths.
So here’s what we do: For people trying to add, always email the teacher beforehand. I once got into a class solely because of that reason, despite my registration date. (And for people who need that IGETC Critical Thinking class, a.k.a. English 1C, try Speech 2. There’s still no guarantee of acceptance, but at least there will be a desk to sit in.) Bring plenty of pens, so you can doodle on those syllabuses during the first day drone. Try and remember to wash your hands without mommy demanding it. And if you still feel the urge to write your name on everything on the first day, bring a marker for the bathroom stall.