Course registration is an intense time for students, especially rising juniors who are given the last registration slot times.
Contrary to previous years, some sophomores are feeling anxiety paired with limited course offerings for the 2018-2019 school year in their major: communication studies.
The communication major requires students to take required core courses, like Senior Project, a research course and Ethics, but all students also need three electives in the department.
Some underclassmen students are noticing the limited number of electives offered.
Sophomore communication major Mary Winn said her biggest issue with registering for next year’s classes is that there are many choices on Student Planning for communication and philosophy electives, but only two or three will be offered.
She’s also worried that the classes she needs for the major will fill up before she can even register because she has the last registration slot.
Sophomores might be noticing the pinch of a lack of course offerings, but senior Vicky Papadopoulos said she did not have that problem when registering for courses in previous years.
Papadopoulos is a senior communication major who declared in spring of her first year. She said communication electives were easy for her to find. There were even times where she was stuck between a few options of electives to choose from because there were many options.
She said she recommends accessing resources like drop-in advising through the Academic and Career Advising department at KSC and speaking with faculty advisors in the department.
Winn asked her advisor for help, and said they were able to figure out what classes she should take.
However, once she and her advisor planned out her schedule, she looked on Student Planning again and saw that one of the classes she was going to take, Intercultural Communication, wasn’t offered anymore. She said that threw off her classes for the rest of the fall.
Winn plans on meeting with her advisor again, but she is still discouraged. “A lot of the communication classes will be scheduled at the same time,” she said, “so I can’t even fit what’s offered.”
Winn said she would like the department to offer more of a variety of electives so she could take classes that she’s more interested in. She suggested that they hire more professors, but added, “Since the college is financially struggling, they probably can’t do that.”
Dr. Nigel Malcolm, chair of the communication and philosophy department, understands student frustration. “Just as students notice the lack of electives available, faculty do as well,” he said. “We want to teach our specialty areas.”
The department finished a self-study this year, which noted the lack of faculty needed to teach a variety of courses. Malcolm said that this isn’t a new issue because the self-study in 2006 noted the same thing.
The administration is aware of the shortage, he said, but it is difficult to hire more faculty given the current budgetary situation of the college. Hiring adjuncts has alleviated some of the stress on the department, but adjuncts are hard to retain because they often move on to other jobs.
Malcolm noted that the lack of faculty and course offerings in the communication and philosophy department isn’t “a new problem,” and that it’s a testament to the department that students are just beginning to notice it this year.
Malcolm said the department needs to focus on offering what is necessary for students to graduate, but sometimes that means cutting down the number of electives.
There were seven courses initially cut for the 2018-2019 school year that were offered previously. Through the hiring of adjuncts, he was able to add back two more courses. He emphasized that the addition of the two classes meant that there were still five missing. When asked if there were enough classes in the communication major to suit student interest, he said “the honest answer is no.”
The communication studies major is a part of the communication and philosophy department at Keene State College. Students in this department can choose from a major in communication with an option in communication studies or communication with an option in philosophy.
The department also offers minors in communication and philosophy.
Abby Shepherd can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org