On Dartblog, Dartmouth senior Phil Aubart speaks from personal experience about a significant problem at Dartmouth — the difficulty students have in enrolling in desirable courses. The problem is not confined to underclassmen. As a senior minoring in Government, Aubart still faces the prospect of being shut-out of the Government seminar of his choice. And this was after declaring a Government minor in order to take other courses he wanted within the department. That decision, in turn, prevented him from being able to pursue courses he was interested in outside of his major and minor departments because in order to maintain his Government minor, he had to fill space in his schedule with Government courses that he wasn’t interested in.
The problem is hardly unique to Phil; my daugther has experienced variations of it. Nor is the problem new. When my daughter visited Dartmouth in the spring of 2006, a professor in the Government department warned her about it.
However, it certainly hasn’t always been this way at Dartmouth. The only time I was shut out of a class was when, as a freshman, I audaciously tried to get into a seminar taught by visiting professor Crane Brinton.
Joe Asch has argued, convincingly, that the problem is related to the shocking expansion of the Dartmouth bureaucracy during the past 10 years. If some of the resources that have financed that expansion had been devoted to hiring more professors in over-subscribed departments, students like Phil would be able more consistently to get into the courses of their choice and wouldn’t be forced to make so many trade-offs in order to “game the system.”
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