Changes to course offerings force students to adapt

Jan. 14, 2021, 8:21 p.m.

You have your academic plan for the year all figured out  — the class times, the number of courses you plan to take, the workload you are going to face each quarter — when all of a sudden, courses start to disappear. Slowly, the courses you planned to take have moved, been displaced for another year or no longer fit into your schedule.

That is the reality for many students this academic year. Following the announcement of a more robust summer quarter, Stanford canceled some classes and moved others to quarters when they are not typically offered. The changes to course offerings have resulted in students having to modify their schedules, re-evaluate their academic plans and, in some cases, grapple with a loss of motivation for school.

Symbolics systems major Yanal Qushair ’21 was initially planning to pursue a concentration in computer science, until he realized that two of the courses he was required to take this year no longer fit into his schedule. Afterward, the computer science concentration was no longer feasible “because they changed the course schedule,” he said. 

To avoid taking on too many units in winter, he abandoned his planned concentration in computer science, deciding to pursue a concentration in neuroscience. The biggest reason why? Convenience, according to Qushair. 

“There was a lot of juggling: Would I rather take this course that I am interested in — but it’s going to be a logistical nightmare — or take the easy route and not care about the content,” he said.

For Aditeya Shukla ’22, the changes to course offerings this academic year have forced him to take a leave of absence for a quarter and graduate a quarter later than he intended, which he said was a “daring setback.” And course offering changes are not just affecting him — they are affecting his peers, too, he said.

“Every three weeks I’m redoing my four- or five-year plan, and that has caused everyone to be stressed,” he said. “Even when I speak to my friends and tell them why I was busy, because I was up till 3 or 4 a.m. redoing my four-year plan, they’re like, ‘Yeah, me, too.’”

Due to the changes to course offerings, Nazjaa Hughson ’23 said she experienced a loss of motivation and excitement about her classes and school as a whole.

“I haven’t really been excited about any of them,” Hughson said. “It hasn’t really made me perform worse in class — it’s just really boring, and I’m not having fun as a student.”

While the limited course offerings are not affecting her academic plans, she said, they are impacting her motivation, as she doesn’t have the same energy toward school as she used to have.

Despite the varying ways that students have been impacted by the changes to course offerings this year, they shared the sentiment that the changes have forced them to abandon many classes that they wanted to take, and instead focus on taking courses that they need to complete their major and graduate.

“I’m doing what I’m supposed to do to graduate,” Hughson said. “I’m basically taking it because I want to be enrolled as a full-time student and knock requirements out of the way — but I’m having to shift my focus away from what I’m interested in.”

Contact Leila Feldman at leila.feldman.24 ‘at’ 

Leila Feldman is a high schooler writing as part of The Daily’s Winter Journalism Workshop.

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