The Agony of Choice

If you have just arrived at this hallowed establishment, bright-eyed and eager, you may be thinking the hard part is over – writing those essays, studying for the GMAT etc. But no, the toughest challenge lies ahead. But not yet, you will have to wait nearly a year. Then you too will experience the joys of EC Pre-Registration, followed by the delights of the Add/Drop process.

Given that all of the ECs reading this article (at least 4 of them) are by this point smiling wryly and nodding their heads, whereas the RCs are baffled by the idea that anything could be tougher than that wooden slat puzzle from team-building, I will attempt to explain this wondrous system:

– Halfway through next semester you will be told that finally you are deemed responsible enough to choose courses which interest you, which you can benefit from and that will give you a fully-rounded yet specialized business education. (Rather than just choosing all the ones you know you can get a good grade in).

– You will be repeatedly told how important this process is.

– You will be told that you need to choose a selection of courses that is broad yet deep (you may be shown a diagram on an upside-down T at this point).

– You will also be told that it is important to take into account the professor as well as the course.

– You will be given a further set of complex criteria involving Y-schedules, half-courses, field study credits and something called ‘auditing’.

– You will be told to talk to all your EC buddies about their recommendations.

– All of your EC buddies will tell you totally conflicting things about a variety of courses, to the point where you suspect they are ganging up to have a laugh at your expense (“Can you believe she bought it when I said International Financial Management was an easy course.? Mwa ha ha ha”)

– You will be given the results of an array of polls giving you information on everything from how much work each course is to whether most students last year liked the professor’s aftershave.

– You will be given a booklet giving the official descriptions of the courses, which will take until September if you try to read the whole thing.

– You will have long conversations with all of your classmates about their picks, and constantly worry every time someone sounds enthusiastic about a course you hadn’t considered.

– You will try to sneakily put people off the popular classes (“I heard Frances Frei gives really tough random cold-calls, and that the consumer marketing project is really time-consuming.”)

– You will attend several information sessions where they will explain that the whole system is based on a random lottery, a sophisticated computer program and the alignment of the moon with Jupiter. They will also emphasise again how important it is to take it seriously and how it will affect your whole career.

– You will realize that all of your top choices are in the same time slot, but you still will not accept that you can’t take them all.

– You will be told again that it is vital you take this seriously and do not mess up your ranking, otherwise you’ll end up taking. (gulp). the WRONG COURSES.

– You will develop various potential ranking systems, and then re-do them trying to second-guess the course picks of all 899 of your classmates.

– You may build a model.

– You will be expected to enter your ranking on an extremely un-user friendly interface that makes you delete courses you have laboriously chosen from a phenomenally long drop-down list every time you want to change a ranking. Which you will. Incessantly.

– Halfway through the summer you will be told that actually, you do get another chance to pick, and that just to make it harder they’ve moved a few of the courses around, added another one and cancelled two of you favourites.

– Repeat as above, but this time while trying to survive working 24/7 during your PE internship or hiking up a mountain saving fruitbats in Somalia.

– You will get your final class list, which will convince you that the entire system is not only grossly unfair, but probably all an elaborate sham. Secretly everyone’s rankings are thrown out and a load of undergrad interns spend the summer randomly assigning people to classes according to their whims.

– You will drop all cross-registered courses at KSG and optional language courses at FAS within your first few days. They involve crossing the river, what were you thinking..?!

– Once you get to experience your classes you will find that it is not at all what you expected: the classes you thought you would struggle in are fantastic; the ones you thought you would love send you to sleep. Congratulations, you now have to attempt to understand Add/Drop.

– Add/Drop is very similar to the process above, except less well explained and condensed into a smaller time period. An algorithm will be mentioned. You will be given examples that don’t resemble your situation at all.

– You will still not get any of your first choice courses, but you will at least get a chance to move from that pesky 8.30am strategy course to the more civilised 10.05 section.

– Come winter, you get to do this last bit all over again, but this time round your only criteria will be: trying to have only X-schedule classes; trying to have no 8.30am starts; making sure you have all exams and no papers; and getting into the same classes as all of the cute people you haven’t hooked up with yet, as you only have three months of opportunity left to impress them with your brilliant comments.

– In two years time I guarantee you won’t be able to name more than four classes you took in your EC year. And even then you probably won’t remember what the acronyms stand for. Business, Selling and Strategizing Entrepreneurially..

September 17, 2007
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