Senior Values Seminars Exceed Course Cap

Deans Urge Upcoming Seniors to Consider Courses Outside Major


Published: April 3, 2008

As students register for classes for the 2008-2009 academic year, upcoming seniors should be sure not to wait until second semester to register for the senior values seminar. With a cap of 18 students, some senior values seminars that were offered for Spring 2008 were forced to exceed the maximum limit this year in order to accommodate all the seniors.

“The real problem is that there are 18 spots, and students have too much riding on this urgency that they need to take a seminar that also fulfills their major core,” said Cecilia Petit-Hall, assistant dean for seniors at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC). In a worse-case scenario, a student will plan to take a senior values course in the spring that is also needed to fulfill a requirement for their major, and it may not be offered by the time they register, or they will be locked out because of the cap and the large number of students who need the course as well.

One course that often closes out in a matter of minutes on registration day is the communication and media studies seminar, Films of Moral Struggle, according to Petit-Hall.

“I would have preferred to take Films of Moral Struggle, as it would have counted as a major elective as well as the values course, but it filled up almost immediately and the only option was Medical Ethics,” said Dave Matthews, FCLC ’08, who said he only registered for Medical Ethics for the current semester because it was the only course left that was at a convenient time.

Petit-Hall noted that although 18 is the cap, there is a “grey space” for two students who might need that particular course in order to graduate, in which case they will be given careful consideration, and could be eligible to join the class.

However, students who were studying abroad were able to register in advance, in order to avoid getting locked out of classes. Erica Barrow, FCLC ’08, who studied abroad last semester, said that she was able to register early for her seminar, Social Welfare and Society, which she needed for her major.

Jessica Keefe, FCLC ’08 was also able to register in advance because she studied abroad in the spring of 2007. Keefe was able to fulfill her communication and media studies minor by taking the coveted Films of Moral Struggle seminar. “I had no issues with having to take it as my senior values seminar, though if I had gotten blocked out of it and was obligated to take some Kafka and the Self course offered through the Philosophy department as a last-ditch effort to graduate on time, I’d probably feel much differently about it,” Keefe said.

For the current academic year, Robert Moniot, associate dean at FCLC said that the fall semester senior values seminars were not nearly as full as the spring semester seminars, indicating that many seniors waited until the spring, and banked on getting into the course that they needed.

In addition, he said that this year was unusual, in that there were too few seminar proposals for the spring semester from various departments. Originally, there was only one theology course to be offered, rather than the typical two courses and two philosophy courses rather than the typical three, Moniot said.

“I projected a need for nine seminars [for the spring semester],” Moniot said. Although two courses were added, to make eight day seminars offered (one short of his projection) and two night seminars offered, Moniot said that “we put more students into the evening courses than we normally would, and filled up all courses to 20.”

Moniot added that, to his knowledge, there is no senior who will not graduate this year due to being locked out of a senior values course.

“Dean Grimes has never let the number 18 prevent a worthy student from getting into the course,” Moniot said. “He made it clear that 18 is not our cap if students really need to get into our course, so we have in fact exceeded the cap.”

Petit-Hall added that there is a careful consideration when deciding who gets to exceed the cap. “We try to see who needs it the most,” she said. “If a student will be here in the summer, they don’t need it, because the course will be offered in the summer.”

One step that might help students plan their schedule for the entire year is the new full-year scheduling system. The course booklets for the upcoming academic year will also show the courses offered for the spring semester (though students will not be able to register any earlier for the spring) so that students will be able to plan their courses better.

When communication and media studies major Joennis Almeida, FCLC ’08 was closed out of Films of Moral Struggle, she was forced to take a seminar relating to theater. “It’s an interesting course and I’ve been exposed to new concepts that I otherwise would not have learned,” she said. “However, I feel that my senior values course should’ve been related to my major. I feel I am struggling with the work because it mainly pertains to theater and I’m not a theater major.”

Petit-Hall urges students to take a course outside of their major. “[The seminar should] expose you to things you’ve never been exposed to before.”

“Don’t wait for spring,” she added. “Consider other classes outside your area in which to fulfill, don’t limit yourself. Just know there are only 18 seats and if you have so much riding on getting into one class, the likelihood on not getting in is very high. Don’t assume you’re going to get one class and don’t wait until [your] last semester.”