Choosing from the menu

BY TAYLOR DASHER

The time for course selection is quickly approaching, and there is an incredibly long and interesting list of classes on the registrar’s website. Well, it’s a long list at any rate. It seems there are classes on everything we might want to take. And it also seems there are classes on everything but what we might want to take.

For those who are currently keenly enjoying their classes, it becomes difficult to choose a single courseload. It’s like being limited to one trip to an enormous, brand-new dessert buffet. All kinds of things look delicious, and you can’t predict what will taste best.

But for the more normal among us, there is the opposite problem: the educational smorgasbord seems to consist of one hundred different varieties of lima beans. The plain fact may be that it is extremely difficult to make a legal class sound exciting, especially in comparison to excellent undergrad courses such as swimnastics (no, seriously – I took that class). Tax law courses could be advertised in flashing neon lights with live music, but the waitlist would still be collecting dust.

For the chronically undecided, some criterion will have to be adopted. Many will opt to pick classes according to what they feel they should take. This, however, leads to extremely unpleasant results, with Administrative Law being Exhibit A. The course has been likened to eating spinach – not particularly pleasant, but good for you. Think about that before signing up – it is self-acknowledged to be the bitter, soggy green vegetable in the education of a future crop of professional scum-sucking bottom feeders.

In light of this, some may use different criteria. A number of students will gravitate toward the classes that have the easiest grades. They will take seminars that impose no limit on the number of As and avoid classes such as Fed Courts that attract droves of Law Review masochists. They may also take Professor Jolls’s class titled “Equality” since it cannot indulge in much of a curve without also indulging in hypocrisy. These students may find, however, that their quest for easy grades becomes transparent to their fellow students. When this happens, hopefully someone will convince them that the preoccupation with grades is silly and needless, but likely someone else will pressure them into rejoining the ranks of overachievers.

There is also the option of just picking classes that your friends are most likely to ask you about. This provides a layer of satisfaction even when the class itself affords none since you will at least have the opportunity to vent, tell stories, or lie to your classmates. Classes that fall in this category are those with “sex” in the course title. For example, there is a class on sexual violence. There’s also a class on gender violence, and while the difference between the two is unclear, taking the two together would certainly permanently extinguish a few libidos, thus providing a few decent stories. The course titled “Power, Beauty, Sex” will also provoke questions among your compatriots, but there is a rumor that it is just advanced administrative law with a sexy name to sucker people into taking it.

Of course, despite or more likely because of several possible criteria, many will remain confused. For these folks, the many comparative law courses are the obvious choice. These courses will allow you to remain confused indefinitely as you try to compare a foreign legal system you know nothing about to another legal system you know nothing about – your own. And for those who like an even deeper level of confusion, there’s a class on transgender law.

In the end, however, we’ll all stay at least a little confused because we won’t have a good criterion for choosing a criterion. A slew of options, whether they are good or bad, create an incredible amount of indecision. The fact that we have umpteen courses to pick from leaves us a little bit paralyzed. When you’re pulled (or repelled) in many directions at once, you end up being unable to move. You spend a great deal of time and energy seeking what is best rather than just going with what won’t kill you. And while it is fairly easy to discern what might be fatal, it is incredibly difficult to figure out what is best.

In some ways, life was easier in earlier times. Back in the elementary school cafeteria, there was only one thing on the menu and usually it was some variety of pseudo-pizza. You only had to decide whether or not the mystery meat under the cheese contained an enemy alien species. In the Stone Age, you only had to decide what direction you were going to travel to kill something to eat. There wasn’t the annoyance of multiple decisions that should be a blessing but always feels like a burden. We’ve now grown too old as individuals to have others dictate our actions, and we’re too old as a civilization to have concerns for survival dictate either. What career to have, who/what to date, and when to go to bed are all decisions we have to make on our own.

And such is also unfortunately the case with course selection. Sometimes it seems a pity it’s not more like course selection at the elementary school cafeteria. In the end, however, deciding classes is only a very small matter and like many other small matters, we probably spend way too much time thinking about it. It is probably wisest to collect information and simply go with your gut since no class is going to completely fulfill you and no course is going to kill you. At least not unless you take Capital Punishment.

Taylor Dasher is not taking Admin Law.

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