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Sunday, May 29, 2022

"The stage is set for the annual festivities!” UF President Kent Fuchs screams in delight as the cameras pan around the familiar arena, showing 35,247 tributes with eager fingers ready to begin the hardest struggle of their lives. It is 8:59 on Monday morning, the 29th of October — class registration is less than a minute away. While there are significantly less murder and double-suicides during UF’s registration process, its free-for-all style and cut-throat tactics draw many parallels to Suzanne Collins’ massive dystopian battle royale (the Fortnite-before-Fortnite) “The Hunger Games.” As this time of year is upon us once more, I feel the strategies on how to succeed are important to share.

Just as in “The Hunger Games,” the most essential goods are taken in the first minutes. In the fictionalized fight between tributes, the goods in the Cornucopia consist of strong weapons, food, first aid and other items that either ensure the survival of a player or the death of an opponent. In Gainesville’s very own rendition of this death-struggle, the Cornucopia is filled with something more valuable: easy gen-eds. I’m talking that “too-good-to-be-true” biology course that has a 5.0 on “Rate My Professor” and supposedly gives no homework or the English course that touts an astonishingly empty list of textbooks. These classes, just as the items in “The Hunger Games,” are gone first, taken by players with a large advantage, and leave the painful sight of first-blood in their wake. Juniors and seniors swoop in, just like the Career tributes from the wealthy districts, and secure these classes. Sophomores, and especially freshmen, are left to fight over scraps, unless they are able to somehow get lucky, or in the Honors Program for early registration. However, many of these students are naive and unprepared, entering the vicious process with a blind optimism and trust in the universe that has long since been beaten out of upperclassmen by the battering ram of collegiate life. Without a game plan, losing out on that biology or English class rearranges entire schedules for these baby Gators, possibly shifting the course of their entire semester. They are but casualties in the great game of registration that provides entertainment for faculty.

So how do you navigate the murky waters of class registration with expeditiousness and efficiency? For upperclassmen, half of the job should be done for you before the countdown to 9 a.m. Monday is up. Smaller, upper-division courses are generally less competitive, as they are more specialized and geared toward smaller sections of the Student Body. This is the most powerful argument I know in favor of doing well and passing your classes: Registration becomes a lot easier. Of course, this is not generalizable to all upper-division courses nor is it applicable to all upperclassmen. Some of our elder Gators, as mentioned, are still navigating their gen-eds, some for good reason and others because college was the first taste of independence and/or alcohol they experienced in their entire lives, and their first two or three years at UF were, as they say in hip-hop, “lost in the sauce.” Either way, these students should still be OK for registration, as they get first dibs on the Cornucopia of coveted courses. It is the underclassmen, desperately fighting for a few select gen-ed classes, who are truly in need of a surefire strategy for success.

These students should do two things to guarantee success, but at the very least, survive in the dawning minutes of class registration. Firstly, underclassmen should be prepared to cut their losses and take their second, third or even fourth picks. It is imperative that they don’t become emotionally attached to any given professor or course, or they will be demolished in the herd of rushing Gators and fall off their projected course altogether. Having a few palatable options is good as a security measure; it will keep you alive. It will not guarantee success, though. To ensure victory at the Cornucopia, underclassmen will need to single out one class they really want, copy the course code and as soon as their registration opens, paste the code and add the course immediately. With both of these strategies and a little luck, underclassmen will get schedules that doesn’t make them consider dropping out.

The most depressing thing about the resemblance of class registration to “The Hunger Games” is how inescapable it is for younger students. There is no real direction I can give to UF to improve the process, as even though it stands currently with death, destruction and despair, class registration goes about as smoothly as it possibly could. For upperclassmen, the process should serve as nothing more than a morbidly hilarious reminder of the pain they felt upon missing out on a class years back. For underclassmen with the correct strategy, it will not devastate them. It is a select few each year though, the unprepared and overwhelmed, who will experience the brutality of human nature in the ruthless arena of UF’s very own “Hunger Games,” but instead of losing their lives, they will be deprived of much more important things: friends, academic plans, possibly their GPA and hope for a successful future.

Kyle Cunningham is a UF English and history freshman. His column appears on Wednesdays.
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