A Compassionate Schedule

Trying to get into the college class of your choice nowadays can be brutal.

If you’re currently a college student, you probably know from experience that because of budget cuts, fewer classes/sections are being offered, more students are attending, and everyone is rushing to get their degree finished. The result: if you want to get into a popular professor’s class, you have to fight for it. While there’s nothing wrong with being proactive and assertive, what ends up happening sometimes is a “every man himself” mentality, which may not create the friendliest peer atmosphere.

Despite all the competition for popular classes in the first week of school, just today I met a fellow student (we’ll refer to him as David) who surprised me with a random act of compassion. We were both in the same situation: enrolled in Section A but wanted to switch into Section B. While both sections are under the same class name “Language in Context”, they are taught by two different professors. Section A is known to be very demanding, and Section B is known to be more lax. Section A is linguistics theory based and section B is teaching/application based. We are both TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) students so naturally Section B seemed like the more appealing class to attend.

Not only was the class completely full but there were at least 8 more students (including us) that wanted to join in the class as well. Many of the students took time after class to introduce themselves to the professor, adding a face to a name and describing their particular circumstance that would make them the preferred candidate to be added (implied of course).

David and I were the last two on the list. When most students had left, David went to the professor and told her that because he was already enrolled in one of the sections that he would not mind if she let another student who was not enrolled in any of the sections into the class in place of him. I was completely surprised by his suggestion. Throughout the week, I’ve been witnessing people asserting their own circumstances and pushing for their own schedules, taking on a rather selfish attitude in scheduling classes. Yet, for the first time, there was someone who thought about the possibility of another student not getting the chance to take a class at all versus the possibility of him getting a class of second choice, and he decided to step aside.

I talked to him after class about his decision. He told me that he felt even if he took Section B (linguistic theory-based, known to be demanding) that he would still be able to take something valuable from the class even though linguistic theory wasn’t his degree focus. He said he’d let things fall into place and regardless of which class he ended up with, he’d make the most of it.

After hearing this, not only was I highly impressed by his approach but I also found that I loosened up all the stress that I had accumulated throughout the week with all the schedule changes. I almost felt like I saw through all the trivial matters that were making me worry so much. I found his decision to be truly noble and rare, something many of us, including me, can learn and benefit from.

2 Replies to “A Compassionate Schedule”

  1. Being a university student, I have felt the same stress for the past few weeks, being constantly overloaded with work and always looking at others to see how (badly) they were handling it. I feel there’s something profound to be learned from your friend’s approach. I definitely wish to emulate him.

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