Preparing for Problems: Cancelled Classes

Professor Kotsko in her office on the third floor of Stroud Hall.
Photo Credit / Jamie Reese
Professor Kotsko in her office on the third floor of Stroud Hall. Photo Credit / Jamie Reese
Professor Kotsko in her office on the third floor of Stroud Hall.
Photo Credit / Jamie Reese




There is an important issue for ESU students to be aware of while registering for the Fall 2013 semester. The issue is related to scheduling for courses that may be cancelled three months later, once the semester has begun. Professor Kotsko, an English professor at ESU, started the semester with unusual news: her Computers and Writing course may be cancelled.

There was close to nothing that Kotsko could do about the situation. Luckily, she had the support of her English department chair, Dr. VanArsdale, who was able to get involved. “My department chair was in full support of the class continuing to run due to the fact that people need it for their majors. She allowed me to alert students who might be interested about the potential cancellation to get more students enrolled, and I believe she informed students as well, but it seemed that she was going to try to keep the class running regardless of whether or not more students enrolled,” Kotsko indicated.

Students in the Computers and Writing course learned that the class would not be cancelled, simply because the course continued week after week. According to Kotsko, the reason for continuing was never brought to her attention. “I actually was not given any letter about the decision to continue the course from the administrator that informed my department chair and me of its ‘watch list’ status,” she said.

“The course’s enrollment did increase, though not substantially in the week of notice I was given. So maybe that increase had something to do with it?” Kotsko thought. “Maybe if my department chair spoke to the administration about graduating seniors being enrolled in the course and needing it for graduation, then that could have been the reason?”

This experience that Professor Kotsko’s students may have gone through was something she could relate to herself. Kotsko shared her opinion based on past experiences that created distrust between her as a student and the administration. “Even as a doctoral student at Lehigh, I’ve had classes that I enrolled in, and needed, cancelled due to low enrollment. That actually happened to me twice in one semester. It was very aggravating and made me feel like my needs were not important.”

Kotsko continued, “And, I also felt deceived and unappreciated. When a course is offered, it should continue no matter what. When humans have enrolled in the course, their learning should not be dependent upon some magic number. Whether there are two people enrolled or twelve, people are still paying to learn and can’t complete their educations if universities won’t allow them to.”

Kotsko acknowledged unavoidable setbacks for both the students, and her as an educator, if the courses were canceled.

“Well, the biggest setback would be to students. The course is a requirement for certain majors, and since it is already offered so infrequently, not offering the course this semester could have jeopardized students’ graduation. That’s the main reason why I had so much support from my department chair to keep the class running. Some might say that students could just take a different required course in its place until our class was offered again, but for seniors, that might not have been possible. Also, due to the semester having already begun, getting into another class – period – could have been difficult for any of the enrolled students. Also, for graduate students, our offerings in English at the graduate level are also limited to begin with, so finding another graduate level English course might have been problematic.”

Professor Kotsko’s experiences may help another in need. She had several pieces of advice to share in order to remain on the right path to graduating.

“Well, my first piece of advice would be that most things are not perfect in life, so to a certain degree, we must all learn to deal with disappointments that occur due to no fault of our own, unfortunately. As my father used to say, ‘Life isn’t fair.’ However, secondly, I would encourage students to speak with administrators and express their concerns about the situation openly, in a professional manner, of course.”


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