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APRIL FOOLS: New course lottery system

By Bonnie Gewanter

Section: News

March 31, 2006

The housing lottery has passed once again, and another successful year for the Department of Residence draws to a close. The lottery system allows for students to choose their housing in a fair and surprising way. Since the system has worked so well for housing, Brandeis has decided to expand the lottery system to course selection as well.

Although the specific guidelines have not been finalized, we were able to get an estimate of how the system will be run. Toward the end of every semester each student will receive a random lottery number, which will give the student a specific time to register for all of their courses. The hope is that this random number will create a fair and equal opportunity to students, and to minimize student planning for their majors prior to completing a substantial course load.

A low number will get priority over a high number, and students will be able to pull in two friends to sign up to the same course as them, if they have a good enough number. This way, students with bad luck still have a chance to take a first choice course, or at least their friends first choice! Brandeis hopes that this new system will discourage favoritism, and give students the opportunity to try new classes, and broaden their liberal arts education.

Classes will not be guaranteed to all students. The students with the highest numbers will have to be pulled in to a course by a friend, or in the worst case situation they may have to wait until next semester, and try their luck again with the course lottery.

Brandeis hopes that this will add to student academic motivation and allow for healthy competition. This also will allow students to appreciate the courses they are registered for, and create an intellectually stimulating environment. Brandeis hopes that this aspect of the new system will pop the Brandeis Bubble right in its tracks! This is a step to prepare students for the real world, which we understand is to be avoided at all costs.

Brandeis, being a small school, also wants to encourage students to form a tight knit group to socialize with and to work with. Studies show that students are less likely to be distracted when working with a familiar group of peers. By allowing students to pull in friends into their courses of choice, and eventually into majors, the hope is that it will create a rigorous while encouraging atmosphere for its students.
Yet there are a few concerns that are being discussed. One is if this new system could shut students out of their desired major. A study was done in a college in Korea, where a course lottery system was temporarily implemented. Students were very unhappy with the system. One student remarked, All I wanted was to major in chemistry, but I never got a good number, and my friends had other interests. It looks like I will be doing classical studies after all! Other students had similar experiences. Another concern is that friendships could turn sour when good numbers become scarce within a social group. Although this study has shown some minor glitches, Brandeis is confident that the system will be a positive improvement to our current course registration system.

Brandeis is happy to announce that if all goes well with the new lottery course selection system, they plan to expand even further. The next switch to the lottery method that is on its way: The Lottery Meal Plan System! Look out in the Hoot for details in the coming weeks! The plan looks like a winner;

only lets hope if you like eating that you get a good number!

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