Page 8 - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 8, 1988
Students cram in
as classes overflow
Counselors get personal
BY KRISTINE LALONDE
With hopes of changing the
"you're just a number" feeling that
many students have when choosing
classes, the counseling department
implemented several changes for en-
tering first-year students last sum-
Both students and counselors have
cited lack of personal attention as the
biggest problem in counseling.
General Counselor Philip Gor-
man said, "We do see thousands of
kids throughout the summer, so it is
difficult to develop a rapport."
LSA SENIOR Greg Brown
said general counseling is "really
overwhelming. They ask, 'Whyare
you here?"' He said he was "kind of
disappointed" with the counseling he
received as a first-year student.
Now the department is trying to
give more personal attention to new
students. For example, all incoming
students received an intellectual cu-
riosity questionnaire before their
orientation session. A student's as-
signed counselor reviewed the results
along with the application essays.
The department also implemented
an additional counseling session
during orientation. Formerly, an
orientation student met once with a.
counselor, and a second time in a
group meeting to discuss classes.
Now students meet with the coun-
selor once to determine what inter-
ests them, then a second time to
"I THINK THE changes are
for the better. It will hopefully give
the student the feeling that they have
more service and support from the
counselor," Counseling Director
Charles Judge said.
Counselors also give students a
special course guide designed
specifically for the first-year student.
Judge said the counseling depart-
ment will make similar changes for
all students if it receives more fund-
Such changes, he said, would in-
clude pre-screening by peer advisors
to determine each student's needs and
increased counselor time in the
Judge said he wants students to
feel they have one counselor who
they can identify with. Additional
personnel would help the department
handle its more than 30,000 ap-
pointments a year, as well as in-
crease personal attention, he said.
THE COUNSELING depart-
ment includes general counseling and
concentration counseling. The 30 to
35 general counselors help students
who haven't yet chosen their majors.
The 100 concentration counselors are
professors in the student's chosen
Although the department hears
few concentration counseling com-
plaints, not many incoming students
will see a concentration counselor
during their first year.
Susan Gonzalez, an LSA senior,
said, "When I was a freshman, I
went to a general counselor, but I
had a lot of questions they didn't
have answers for. Once you go to
someone in your major or graduate
program they're the most helpful."
LSA SENIOR Gordon Falk
agreed. "I've found that there's a lot
of bureaucracy involved and it's hard
to get answers." He recalled an in-
stance when general and concentra-
tion counselors each referred him to
the other division. "Stuff like that
makes me think that it's not as ef-
fective as it could be," he said.
General Counselor David Ross, a
professor of classical studies, said
problems often occur because the
University, unlike smaller schools,
doesn't require students to see coun-
selors frequently. Because students
only are required to see a counselor
during orientation time, Ross said,
they have to be assertive enough to
seek help on their own.
BY ALYSSA LUSTIGMAN
It's a hot, sticky day at the beginning of the term,
and you're sitting in a stuffy classroom that resembles
a packed concert more than a lecture hall.
In addition to the students who can comfortably sit
in the room are those lying on the floor, leaning on
top of desks, and standing against the walls. Many are
not registered, but are seeking to beg the professor for
an override into the class.
Is this education?
TWENTY YEARS AGO, said Prof. Richard
Porter, chair of the Economics Department, classes av-
eraged about 25 to 30 students. They now average
"Overcrowding of classrooms is a terrible problem,"
he said, adding that the situation is probably worse in
the economics department than most others.
"Big classes are no fun for the students or the teach-
ers," Porter said. "They have turned a... pleasant occu-
pation into an... unpleasant one."
Porter said students "tend to disappear easily" in
large classes and can skip out or lose themselves in the
BUT SOME administrators don't mind LSA class
sizes. LSA Associate Dean for Curriculum and Long-
Range Planning Jack Meiland said, "There is some dif-
ference in the sizes of classes, and there are some
courses that are more popular than others, but there is
no overcrowding problem."
Some faculty say the problem is not overcrowding,
but "underclassing" - that is, the size of the class-
rooms are simply inadequate for a growing student
"There are two separate problems," said June
Howard, associate chair of the English Department.
"Classes are not assigned to appropriately sized rooms,
and there is a pressure of enrollments."
"Classes aren't overcrowded, they are just in
uncomfortable classrooms," she said, saying there is a
"crisis in the quality of classrooms in LSA."
JAMES CATHER, LSA associate dean for
facilities, said the current renovation of LSA classes
will give "better" space to the rooms.
"The sizes of classes change throughout the years,"
he said. "It's easier to adapt the class size to the room
than to actually change all the rooms."
Cather said years of neglect in LSA classrooms have
led to poor conditions today, but renovations and up-
keep are in the works. The University must now ac-
commodate 30,000 students where 30 years ago it only
had 19,000, he said.
"Even though a number of buildings have been put
up in the past years, not many classrooms have been
added," he said. Some administrators say classes may
be crowded because of limited faculty. In the early '80s,
budget cuts led to a decrease in the number of hired
faculty members. The college has since tried to hire
more qualified faculty, but fluctuating trends make it
difficult to predict which departments will need more
"IN LSA, we are constantly trying to follow stu-
dent interest as emphasis goes from one department to
another. There is flexible funding for TAs to follow
enrollment pressures, but it takes longer to place
tenured faculty," said Associate Dean for Budget Plan-
ning Carolyn Copeland.
"We always try to make space for incoming fresh-
men," she said. The budget office works with the
counseling office to predict how many spaces are
needed with each incoming class.
The department often expands the number of discus-
sion sections for a class it considers crowded. For ex-
ample, Economics 201, which originally offered one
lecture, now offers three.
Some departments try to ease the crowds by creating
larger lower-level and smaller upper-level classes.
"INSTEAD OF having all large classes, some
have 75, and some have only 25. For majors (classes
in the 300-level or above), the classes are smaller,"
Copeland said. "In order to let faculty do that, you have
to increase lower-level enrollment."
The most popular majors for 1987 were English,
Economics, Psychology, and Political Science
Often, students rely on their professors for overrides
into popular classes.
"I think if you want a class badly enough, and stick
it out long enough, you can get into anything," one
LSA junior said. "What professor is going to kick you
out if you attend all his or her lectures and discus-
~ ERIC WINNECKE, an LSA senior, said CRISP
waitlists are usually worthless since seniors get prior-
ity of classes anyway.
"After that, it's just a matter of luck," he said.
But while students are "scandalized" by the thought
of being closed out of classes they want, they also
complain when the classes get too big, Howard said.
Porter said the classroom size sets limits which
prevent classes from spreading out. He said he usually
tries to let seniors in, but otherwise limits the number
of overrides he gives out.
What's the appropriate number of students for a
"IT DEPENDS on the class," Howard said.
"Some undergraduate classes should be no bigger than
16, while some are effective at a large size, like 200."
She said some classes, such as the core classes re-
quired for English majors, are trying to use larger
classes effectively. This semester, as an experiment,
some sections in normally small or medium discussion
classes will be taught as large lectures with small dis-
Porter said 30 students is a good class size, though
he said a course's ideal size is best determined by the
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