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Saturday, July 04

Brookdale Newsroom

Student Voices: No Assigned Seats in College

Remember in high school, when the teacher was about to assign seats, how you were always silently praying that you’d get seated next to your best friend, or maybe your crush? Remember how tedious it seemed to go to school and sit in the same seat, in the same classes, following the same order of events every day?

Or when the teacher would be absent, and you were blessed with that substitute teacher who didn’t know what your assigned seating arrangement was, and you’d move around because you had free reign of the classroom and it felt so good just to sit somewhere different.

Something I noticed in my very first semester here at Brookdale is that college students routinely sit in the same seats for every class. Out of the fourteen classes I’ve taken here at Brookdale, I’ve only had one professor who requested we remain in the same seats, and only then for the first few weeks of the semester, just so they could easily remember our names. So what’s the excuse for the other thirteen classes I’ve taken?

Maybe students feel that they learn better from that one seat that they chose on the very first day of the semester. That if they switched their seat, they wouldn’t be able to focus. Maybe some students are possessive of a certain area of the classroom. I know that I prefer to sit closer to the front, just because I know that my mind wanders and being closer to the board helps bring my focus back.

Perhaps students are still programmed from high school to return to the same seat week after week. But once in a while, I’d like to change it up and see the classroom from a different perspective. It would be stimulating to sit next to different people who may have a different method of note-taking than I do, or to be able to work on a group project with different people than the ones I’ve been working with.

But there’s this unspoken, underlying pressure.

The pressure of knowing that on the first day, wherever you decide to sit is where you’ll remain for the rest of the semester. If you ended up in the back of your statistics classroom or next to a person with bad breath because you were a few minutes late on the first day – well, too bad. Now you’re stuck there.

Every Wednesday night, when my meteorology class is waiting outside the lab room for the professor to arrive and unlock the door, I always wonder. What would happen if I sat at a different lab table than the one I’ve been sitting at for the past six weeks?

Well, first, the girl I’m quasi-friends with would probably ask me why I’m not sitting next to her. The person who normally sits in the seat that I decide to take would look confused and scramble to find another empty seat. And the people at the new table I’m sitting at might look at me strangely. Or they might strike up a conversation and introduce themselves.

I love meeting new people, so the latter is the outcome I’d hope for. Perhaps it’s the fear of being looked at strangely, or being asked, “What are you doing? That’s not your seat,” that prevents some students from changing it up and trying out different spots in the classroom.

After a year here at Brookdale, I am still surprised that students show no desire to use the freedom they were denied in high school. To decide where to sit on a weekly basis. (You can finally sit next to that cute girl in your science class!)

Brookdale has a wide array of students, from those fresh out of high school to those continuing or returning to their education at later stages in life. I encourage you to switch your self-assigned seat every now and then. Mix it up. Talk to someone new. Make a friend. You never know who you’ll meet.

– article by Laura Rose DePinho

Student Voices is a regular Newsroom column written exclusively by Brookdale students. If you would like to contribute a column about college life, campus events or any Brookdale-related topic, email the office of College Relations.