Wine tasting, ice skating: spots in popular classes go fast

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Students taste wine in Introduction to Wine Science, FSHN 304. Photo Courtesy of Bradley Beam.

By Mary Beth Versaci

As students frantically check their time tickets for course registration, some may be hoping that a spot will magically open up in the University’s most popular classes.

Registration for the fall 2009 semester begins April 6 and ends April 23 for the freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors who will attend school next year. But for some popular courses, the timeframe to get a spot in a course only lasts a few hours.

For Food Science and Human Nutrition 304, Introduction to Wine Science, this is the case every semester, said Bradley Beam, professor of the course.

In the class, students learn wine processing, sensory characteristics, history, health aspects and consumer considerations.

“I didn’t have any trouble because I’m a James Scholar,” said Rachael Boss, junior in Media. “But my boyfriend tried registering 24 hours after me, and the class was already filled.”

Beam said he has witnessed this level of enthusiasm since he began teaching it three years ago.

“There’s a huge waiting list every year,” he said. “I wish I could let everyone in, but the class will lose something if it gets larger.”

The class’s capacity is 150 students, Beam said.

He said that all students can do is follow directions to get on the waiting list.

Although Beam often receives e-mails from students “begging” to get into the class, it will not affect their chance to enroll in the course. One section of the class is reserved for Food Science majors only, but the seats in the other sections go to whoever signs up first.

Boss said she would recommend the class to other students.

“It’s really cool because you get to learn something and then put it into practice,” she said. “It’s the only fun lab I’ve ever heard of.”

Kinesiology 104, Ice Skating, is another class offered by the University that tends to fill up quickly, said Phillip O’Connor, graduate coordinator of the class.

Students are required to come to class, learn, and then practice ice skating skills, O’Connor said.

“Every semester fills up very quickly,” O’Connor said. “But I never had a problem getting anyone in.”

He said because there is usually a waiting list for the class, he frequently receives e-mails from students wanting to join the class after it has filled. If students cannot enroll in the course, students should come to the first day of class and put their names on the waiting list.

There are 11 sections each semester, each having a 60-seat capacity, O’Connor said.

“It’s a stress release in students’ schedules,” he said.

The course Human Development and Family Studies 398, Learning Experience South Africa, is another way for students to learn about something they may not be familiar with, said Jan Brooks, the course instructor.

In the course, students read, listen to speakers and watch media clips to learn about South African culture, politics and history.

The class culminates in a winter break trip to Cape Town, South Africa, which allows students to experience firsthand what they learned in class, Brooks said.

“The purpose of the trip is for cultural tours and volunteer work,” Brooks said. “We want students to have a real experience.”

In order to get into the class, students must fill out an application, which includes an essay and two or three letters of recommendation. Anyone can apply for the class, but it is specifically tailored to students in Human Development and Family Studies, Brooks said.

She said she has turned away applicants in the past because there were more applicants than spaces. For this fall, she is looking to have 14 students in the class.

Anna Fairbairn, junior in LAS, took the class in Fall 2007 but did not hear about it until the day before the application was due.

Luckily, she was accepted into the class after she e-mailed Brooks and turned in her letters of recommendation a few days late.

Fairbairn said her favorite part of the trip was the volunteer work, and she would recommend the class to other students.

“It is an experience I truly believe no one should pass up,” she said.