The Looking Glass

The Looking Glass

The Department of Psychology


Susana Iwase-Herman

When I decided to go back to school, I knew my goal was to obtain a master's degree in psychology. It was the summer of 1994 when I met Dr. Levine who promptly handed me the list of prerequisite courses necessary to apply to the graduate program. In the fall I worked-full time and paid $100.00 per unit through the spring quarter of 1995 until I found out through a classmate that I could have obtained "conditional status" and avoided the duplicate degree tuition. I thought I was doing everything advisable for a psychology student in pursuit of a higher degree: I frequented the advisement center, I volunteered as a teacher's assistant, I made friends with those already participating in the graduate programs, and maintained excellent grades. I had carefully set myself up so that I would be able to complete the 3 more courses (necessary to apply to the program) by the end of spring quarter, 1996. I am now in a position where this goal is impossible to meet. What I am about to discuss are the obstacles and concerns that face those like me, and others who simply have a hard time getting classes while keeping there full-time jobs and being "financially responsible."

For those of you familiar with the list of prerequisite courses needed to apply to the graduate program, you will remember that they are divided into 3 categories. The first block includes PSY 302, 304, and 308; block A includes 410, 412, and 418, and block B a slightly longer list of 400 level courses. One must complete all of the courses in the first category as well as choose 2 courses each from both blocks A and B.

In the winter quarter of 1996, the only class available in the evening from block B was PSY 433. This class was full. Although the instructor had no problem adding students, the department did and successfully managed to keep at least 35 students from adding the course necessary for them to graduate or complete the prerequisites needed to enter the graduate program. Certainly, there were enough students to fill another class if one was made available. Unfortunately, 433 was also being offered during the day, with room still available but without students able to afford the time off during the day. I am one of these students.

I work for a living. Without my full-time job, I would not have medical and/or dental insurance. I do not have wealthy parents and I still pay an unsightly sum of money every month in student loans left over from my undergraduate education, in addition to my rent, utility bills, and all other expenses and debts related to survival that perhaps other fortunate full-time, fully funded students don't worry about. It feels like we "financially responsible" students are being penalized by the fact that few evening classes are offered. Of those classes that are, there is no room to add. Paradoxically, the day classes have plenty of room and will unfortunately stay that way for the rest of the quarter.

Is this not a sign that a shift is necessary in the organization of the schedule of classes? Is it not obvious that many of us can no longer afford to attend school during the day and that the need for evening courses has soared in the last few years in correlation with the rising cost of tuition?

It is of little consolation to know that the Psychology Department does make an effort in the rotation of classes (some are offered in the evening one quarter, then in the day the next quarter, and so on). However, since none of us know the schedule of classes for the entire year ahead, this makes planning just as difficult as not knowing whether or not one can get into a class that is full.

My suggestion is for the Psychology Department to make available, every quarter, a schedule of classes to be offered for the entire year. Even better (and in addition), if some classes are more popular in the evenings, cancel those same day classes and move them over to the evening. There is far less objection by day students to take evening classes than there is an inability for the evening students to take day classes. There is simply no sense in offering day classes that don't fill up when there are so many seniors and graduate students desperate for evening classes. Besides, the money gained in enrollment should offset any expenses necessary to re-organize and prepare a schedule of courses for an entire year.

With the rising cost of education, re-structuring and re-organizing will become an inevitable necessity. Our school must find a way to accommodate those of us who have no choice but to work full time for a living. I believe I speak for many students at CSLA (currently and in the future) and not only for those of us seeking degrees in the field of psychology.


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