Planning out the optimal course schedule for the coming semester is a tedious task. We have to strike the difficult balance between fulfilling degree requirements, avoiding schedule conflicts, picking the best professors and satisfying our academic interests. Yet, given how meticulous we tend to be in planning our semesters, it is surprising that we rarely consider courses offered at other universities.
Non-matriculation, taking courses at a school in which you are not enrolled, is something I have enjoyed quite a bit in my college career. It is something other students could benefit from as well.
Think about it: if your goal was to pick the best apples in an orchard, could you think of a good reason to restrict yourself to the nearest tree? In the same way, what sense is there in restricting your pool of possible courses to those offered at Oswego State?
There are two likely answers to this that outline the possible cons of being a non-matriculated student, neither of which is really a deal-breaker.
One obvious drawback of taking courses elsewhere is that you have to travel a cumbersome distance to go to class. For online courses, this is not an issue. For regular courses, traveling to a different college is not that bad if you know the best way to do it: take courses from colleges on a bus route that stops on campus.
Cayuga Community College, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Syracuse University, Le Moyne College and SUNY Upstate Medical University are all accessible via Syracuse 246, a bus that stops by Campus Center several times a day, and gives free rides Thursday through Sunday to those with an Oswego State student ID. Rather than the long ride being a burden, quite often you can sprawl your stuff out on two seats, and use the trip as a solid block of study time.
It’s also reasonable to suspect the process of becoming a non-matriculated student is difficult. Fortunately, it’s not. Generally, you just submit a simple form or two online, and wait for an email confirming that you have been put into the course. The paperwork to get your courses transferred to Oswego State is not that much of a hassle either.
Now that we have addressed the cons, what value is there in plucking those apples hanging from a distant tree?
One good reason to take courses elsewhere is that you will get to take the courses you really want to take, rather than just the ones you like best at your college. For example, though it is rare for colleges to offer a technical writing course, I will be taking it at one of the few that do next semester, SUNY ESF. If too few of the electives offered for your major at Oswego State are appealing, this is the perfect opportunity to become a non-matriculated student.
There is something cool, alluring and slightly disorienting about stepping onto two different campuses in the same day. More often than not, college insulates us within the limited bubble of the campus community and our studies. Stepping into the bubble of another campus, however, makes you acutely aware of this phenomenon, and compels you to adopt the perspective of a fly on the wall. If travel to foreign countries is refreshing in a similar way, then non-matriculation is a great way to reap some of the psychological effects of traveling within the constraints of the semester.
The greater point worth making here is that our college years are a time we have set aside to get an education. Our aim in planning our semesters should be to get the best education we can, regardless of where we get it. It may be valuable to take a large number of courses from Oswego State. At the same time, the ease in taking courses at another college and the benefit of choosing from a wider pool of classes makes non-matriculation a great option.