Hi, my name is Student X and I have a few questions regarding Science as a major and Your Field. See, I am a transfer student from Another University and I have an interest in Science and Something Kind of Related to Science. I was not able to take any Science classes last term and I would like to take one this term. Your upper-level class in Z Science is offered next term and I was wondering if you think it would be a good class for me to start with? My Science background is a bunch of intro Science classes. If you can, please get back to me and let me know what you think. Thanks a lot.
The Z Science class has some prerequisite courses: LIST. It doesn't seem from your email that you have taken any of these classes. You need to start with these classes, including Y Science, and then you can take Z Science, which is offered every year.
I guess it's always worth a try to email a professor and see if the prerequisites are flexible or not. Despite the rude title of this post, some prerequisites are more serious than others, and some can be taken concurrently with the class for which they are a prerequisite (though this is typically noted in the course description).
I get email like this every year before the Z Science class. Some students have had a lot more science and math than Student X but are missing the most directly relevant prerequisite for my class.
In my extreme professorial youth I was sympathetic to tales of woe regarding the academic consequences of a student's not taking my Z Science class in a particular term, even without the prerequisites. For example, if a student takes Z Science first and then the prerequisite Y Science the following term, they may be able to graduate one term earlier than if they have to wait a year to take Z Science. In order for a student to graduate by taking Z and Y Science out of order, though, they must have taken other courses out of order, including ones that have Z Science as a prerequisite. So I figured: If my wise and all-knowing senior colleagues waived the prereq (my class), who was I to insist on the prerequisites being taken seriously?
That's what I used to think, anyway. Over time, though, I realized that even very smart and motivated students could only make up for the missing prerequisite classes by asking the TA's and/or me to spend substantial extra time helping them understand the prerequisite material. That wasn't fair to the TA's or me; neither of us have the necessary extra time to help a student make up for all that they have missed by taking the courses out of sequence. And for every smart and motivated student who struggled with the class and managed to get a decent grade with lots of effort and assistance, there were other, less smart and less motivated students who failed the course in much higher numbers than students who had taken the prerequisite courses.
Fortunately these courses are offered every year without exception and the schedule is organized to minimize overlap with other essential courses the students are taking if they take the Science classes in the correct sequence. This minimizes the number of students pleading for exceptions to the prereqs, but there is always at least one.
I no longer waive the prerequisite. I have had too many students get a poor grade or fail owing to their not having taken the prerequisite course(s), and then some of these students were angry at being allowed to take a course they couldn't pass; guess whose fault this was?
Some courses do have 'soft' prerequisites that could be waived if necessary, but in some cases the REQUired part of a preREQUIsite is there for a good reason.
9 months ago