November 11, 2022 | OPINION | By Karly Hamilton
12+14+11=37, but the class I need to take block eight for my major is competitive, so I need at least eight points for that, which means I need to somehow take away five points from my other blocks so I complete my major requirements. But if I don’t take the class I have planned for block six, I have to take my creative process credit next year. So, what do I do?
I love Colorado College; there are a lot of things here that make our school unique—of course, starting with the block plan. But the uniqueness of CC doesn’t stop there. One of the things I was most surprised to hear about when I decided to come here was how we register for courses: with the point system.
When I first heard about the point system during an admissions session my senior year of high school, I wasn’t sure how to feel. I spent high school picking classes by luck of the draw. I turned in my selections and top 3 elective blocks and hoped for the best. If you missed the deadline, you went to the bottom of the pile and hoped the classes you wanted would be during different periods.
The block plan eliminates some of these challenges since we can only take one class at a time. If I can’t decide between a statistics and history course for a block, the college can’t do anything to help me from a scheduling perspective—I have to make a choice.
Where our system becomes complex is the strategy that accompanies the point system, which is almost reminiscent of a silent auction. We all have a starting budget (40 points) and get to bid on the items that most appeal to us (classes). Since preregistration is open for a month, everyone has plenty of time to evaluate courses and distribute points accordingly. There’s even extra wiggle room if priorities change.
I like the point system because it gives us more influence over the courses we want. This semester, I had two classes I knew I wanted to take this semester specifically. One was Macroeconomic Theory, which I know many different majors need to complete, and another was a political science course with a creative process designation, Syria in Revolution and War. Macro theory is required for my major, and I knew I wanted it this semester 1) to be able to take higher level courses sooner rather than later and 2) to decide if I was ready to declare a major.
But the historical data for how many points I would need to get into Macro Theory scared me, I knew it would likely take a chunk of my points. Looking back on the minimum points to get into the course, I just barely made the cut.
My advisor and I weren’t sure what to do about Syria in Revolution and War. I knew it was how I wanted to take my creative process credit, but further, I wanted to learn about a region I know very little about. My advisor told me to base my points on last year’s numbers but something told me to bump it up a bit. I did, and again, just barely made the cut. This year, the course had a waitlist of 13 people—last year, the course wasn’t full.
The point system is hard to navigate; no strategy is perfect. Data on previous courses is helpful but, based on my experience, it isn’t everything. That said, it puts everyone on even footing.
We must pick and choose what we want. If two classes take up most of your points for a semester, then the other courses you “bid” on should probably be less competitive, or you should plan to have a backup option. It’s certainly not perfect, no system is. But it’s pretty close to fair if you ask me, and that’s not something to lose track of.