Every semester, there’s a specific day in which all Vanderbilt students allow the same small event to overwhelm their lives. The panic creeps in as the clock approaches 8:00am. Despite the preparation of the past few weeks, students everywhere become anxious with the thought of everything falling apart. They picture the unstable Vanderbilt wi-fi crashing or their screens freezing. They imagine themselves unable to pursue their dreams due to one minute of digital chaos.
You may be wondering what this day is. It’s Class Registration Day.
Today is class registration day for me and 800 other Vanderbilt students (there are 8 registration days in total, each as stressful as the next for the respective students). What this means is that at exactly 8:00am CT, 800 people are logging onto the same webpage and pressing the same button that appears to either confirm or deny the future of their entire academic careers.
The ironic aspect of class registration is that is causes such a commotion on campus, however it is so easily forgotten. While I am sitting in my Spanish Literature class, I’m not thinking about how I never got into the Statistics class that I need to take. When class registration does not go exactly how we want it to, we realize days – or months – later that we can simply take the class next semester. Or the next one. Or the one after that. For the sophomores registering today, we have two and a half more years of classes to take and five more semesters during which we can take them.
The bottom line is that today’s class registration is a tiny speck in the history of our lives.
But is it?
The other feature of class registration that I find to be interesting is that it highlights one very important piece of us. Our college major. As a sophomore, I struggle with where I want to go and what I want to do with the rest of my life. I wonder if choosing one course of study will lead me into an entirely different path than another. The reality is that it will. If I major in Neuroscience, there is a much higher likelihood that I will end up working in medicine than if I take the undergraduate business route. The classes we take determine what our interests are. And if they don’t, they should.
When I think about it, the fears associated with Class Registration Day go far beyond that 8:00am show time. They aren’t solely about the inevitable wi-fi fiasco or the disappointment you feel when you realize the class you want to take is full. Rather, they represent a deeper anxiety that is connected to what we want to do with the rest of our lives. We spend days considering which classes we need and which classes we desire. If you’re anything like me, you attend a pre-law workshop one day and see a career coach who specializes in consulting the next. You are unsure of what your future holds, and the pressure of choosing the right classes only adds to that uncertainty.
Being a college sophomore is exciting. You’re at a point in your life in which you can essentially choose any direction. You are free to discover and explore your passions. You are surrounded by knowledge and the never-ending opportunities to learn. However, it can also be uncomfortable. Sophomores are in a place in which it is acceptable to not know exactly what you want to do, however we are expected to have a tentative plan. When you don’t, it can be scary.
As someone who is overly obsessed with planning, I have done my best to prepare multiple outcomes for my future. I have chosen a flexible major that will hopefully open multiple doors for me. Nevertheless, I experienced the stress of Class Registration Day the same. I found myself frustrated with the slow Internet and angry at the fact that my perfectly aligned schedule was disturbed. But before I allowed myself to become entirely overwhelmed, I thought back to my original thought in this post. It’s not about this fragment of time, but rather about which classes I am going to take and where they are going to lead me. The issue here isn’t about what happens today, it’s about how I handle it tomorrow.
Cheers to late night thoughts and an unfamiliar, bright future.