space holder 2002: A Cyberspace Odyssey (continued)

   Students can pre-register these days by phone or by computer. However, that doesn't mean they're finding it any easier than they once did. The forms had many students befuddled over the summer. But the 32 student members of the Class of 2002 Project had an advantage their peers did not. They could talk to Al. They could talk to Jim. They could get advice from alumni.

Subj: Re: Stick my head in a blender
Date: June 14, 1998
F rom: Mike V., W'02
The Wharton guide says to take 5 cus. Is that bad? Am I going to die from exhaustion or what?

Subj: Re: Oh the irony
Date: June 15, 1998
From: Monica, C'02
I honestly have never felt more lost than I do at this point.

Subj: Advance Registration Sheet
Date: June 15, 1998
From: Chandra, C'02
Maybe this is the weeding out process okay, we got in, but if we can't figure out how to register for courses, we should just drop out of Penn before we waste our money. :)

Subj: Re: Course Selection
Date: June 15, 1998
From: Karen Rosenberg, CW '64
You guys are lucky The people I feel sorry for are all the other members of the class of 2002, who surely have their heads in blenders right now. Each one must be feeling totally clueless and unaware that everyone else is in the same boat.

Subj: bootie treasure Date:
June 15, 1998
From: Chil, C'02
It seems like some of you are really depressed and possibly suicidal. Maybe you just need a hug (or a spanking).

Subject: Emergency
Date: June 18, 1998
From: Omar, Wh'02
Someone help me, this is serious. In the Wharton student handbook it says take econ 001 and econ 002. Does this mean take them both first
semester? Someone reply quick because I have to finish my scheduling.

   O'Donnell and Filreis asked a few people from the various schools' advising offices to answer the questions, and the students muddled through, many later reporting that they'd gotten the courses they'd wanted. As registration progressed, conversation digressed to which professors were the best, whether lectures could ever be as rewarding as small seminars, and theories on why someone should or should not take a course.

Date: Jun 15, 1998
From: Jim O'Donnell
Let's see, my freshman year. I wanted to major in philosophy. So I pre-selected: Latin (to polish off the language requirement so I'd never have to take another language as long as I lived) Chemistry 203 Philosophy 201 East Asian History before 1800 The Latin course got me hypnotized and I'm a Latin prof; the Chem course was a bummer; Philosophy 201 was a total bore and turned me off to my intended major Note three things: (1) Lots of mistakes; (2) I survived; (3) the serendipitous choices turned out to be the most influential.

Subj: A response
Date: June 30, 1998
From: Rachael Goldfarb, C'99
A professor makes or breaks a class Unfortunately, freshmen don't
know who's great and who should just keep their nose in their research!

   Recommended were Dr. Thomas Childers's history course, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich; Annenberg School of Communication Dean Kathleen Hall-Jamieson's Introduction to Political Communications; and the honors course "How Do You Know?" (which, rumor had it, may be taught by Penn's president, Dr. Judith Rodin, CW'66, and Dr. Paul Rozin, professor of psychology, this spring).
    After the students navigated registration, one asked if there was anything out of the ordinary that they should bring to Penn. This spurred alumni to fondly recall their dorm rooms. They suggested bringing Yaffa blocks (you know, the ones that look like milk crates); under-the-bed storage boxes; power strips; a long phone cord; an extension cord; wipe-off memo boards; posters; and halogen lamps. The last item prompted this bit of avuncular wisdom from Al Filreis: "Halogen lamps are *very* dangerous (they are true fire hazards in dorms)." In response to questions, the alumni said that a laptop computer, bike, and car weren't absolutely essential.
    After that topic passed, the students and alumni spent the first two weeks of July discussing summer work experiences, health care, whether to take Music 21 or 22, whether Omar should worry about having been scheduled for four classes in a row on Mondays, an alum's view of how Penn had changed in five years (following a recent visit), and religions of the world. At some point, an alum who asked not to be identified shared the religious discussion with some coworkers at his firm, and even one of them got sucked into the discussion and posted some comments.
    But conversation slowed down as many students went on vacation or got deeper into their summer jobs. Still, it was clear that those in the group were benefiting from the advice and camaraderie.
    "The feeling of belonging to Penn before you even get there is a [big] step in that grand plan of obtaining your college education," says Joshua Luks, W'02. "This group has contributed beyond a doubt to that feeling."

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