As many CLA students are aware of, a new system was recently imposed during the 2nd Term enlistment. The Clustered Majors System, formerly the Blocking System, was implemented for the first time by the College of Liberal Arts. Unfortunately, many students were blindsided and confused by the sudden implementation, and as a result, the change was received with some resistance by CLA majors. So what exactly is the Clustered Majors System and why was it implemented in the first place? Read on to find out.
What is it?
For students outside of the College of Liberal Arts, the Clustered Majors system is pretty straightforward: it dictates that certain CLA majors, specifically those taking up Communication Arts, Psychology, and International Studies, need to choose their majors in clusters according to section—that is, if they choose A51 as the section for one major, the rest of their majors should be A51 as well. It is also ideal, in this system, to follow one’s flowchart. This way, schedules should be easier to make and there should be less problems when it comes to getting into the class you want.
This system has been around for a while, but it gathered some interest during the previous enrolment period where it was implemented more strictly. Feedback itself, however, was mixed, and many were left unsure as to why the changes were introduced in the first place.
Behind the system: the Whys and Hows
Ms. Mabel Barraca, the CLA Academic Assistant who should be well-known to anyone who’s ever had to manually adjust their schedules or petition for a closed class, enlightens us on the situation and process that led to the Clustered Majors System.
She tells the story of how it began with certain courses that had many sections offered for its majors. You know when you’re enlisting your subjects and find sections A51, A52, A53, all the way to A55 or A56? It was observed that some of these sections would be filled, while others would end up empty, and most of the time, these empty sections would fall on the same day or same time slot. This was the case for many major subjects in CLA courses, including the majors of Communication Arts, Psychology, and International Studies. This made it difficult for both students and professors, as some sections would be overflowing with students, while others would have only the minimum number.
The Clustered Majors system was first implemented in AB Communication Arts, where schedules are more erratic than in most other courses due to the need for faculty practitioners and limited time slots for classes. Because of the general hassle and confusion that those within the course faced, it was suggested to have the Comm Arts majors in block systems, which would eventually be renamed as clusters.
The Psychology and International Studies departments eventually followed suit, mainly because with so many students and so many sections per major subject, it made sense to their respective offices to implement a system that would ensure that all sections were equally filled and all classes given importance. Because of the foreseen benefits of this system, according to Ms. Mabel, the Political Science department is now also considering its implementation.
To understand how the student body has taken to the new system, CLA students whose recent enlistment was their first experience with the Clustered Majors System were questioned. Unfortunately, the response was primarily negative—most of the students interviewed were happy or neutral with the old system, and mentioned that this new system would work better for the younger batch of majors who hadn’t taken unclustered courses in previous terms.
Some students also disliked how the CLA administration is using the new system to solve a problem experienced only by them and a minority of the students. The problem of some classes being full to bursting while others carry only a minimum number of students is a headache, but only for the admin and the few poor students in those classes. Several students do not even experience this difficulty and some find that the imposition of restrictions seems to only make enlistment harder for them.
Finally, many students complained that they were taken unaware by the implementation of the new system. This is understandable since, again, it only affects a minority population and so a school-wide announcement, similar to what was done with the faculty evaluations, was out of the question. However, certain CLA majors share how it may have helped if the departments in question conveyed the announcement through their professors to at least their majors students.
The future of the new system
As of now, three courses are using the new Clustered Majors System. Is there any chance that other courses—or even other colleges –may take this up and try out clusters as well? Ms. Mabel says this system was really created based on the needs of certain courses; therefore, it is each department’s prerogative whether they would like to implement the system as well.
However, the departments considering it may have to think twice. Is it really helpful to the student body, and is it necessary for a more wholesome learning experience for the majors in question? Finally, are the affected students being informed of the implementation of important changes beforehand? Hopefully, for any succeeding changes in the College of Liberal Arts and the University in general, there will be more understanding and less resistance from the students directly affected.