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Bad Chemistry

Bad Chemistry

It’s an obvious fact of life at the University at Buffalo that the chemistry department is comprised of thieves, highway robbers, and extortionists. I have a short list of theories which could explain this:

1 – They concocted a bad mix and got a permanent high off the chemical fumes.

2 – They lost a bet with a badass loanshark and are using college as an extortion plot to pay him back.

3 – It’s secretly a religion.

How bad is the UB chemistry department? It’s one of the factors which is motivating me to consider changing my major to psychology. This isn’t exactly the fault of the subject material or the faculty, but the bureaucracy. My financial aid took forever to get diverted into my textbooks, so I’m weeks behind on the material, and UB chemistry is way ahead of me and doesn’t care. Right now, I’m not nearly as afraid of my math course as I am my chemistry course, which is terrible because when my catch-up finally began, I realized pretty quickly that it isn’t as hard as my math. And I’m currently passing my math!

By all means, chemistry is a fascinating subject. It explores the ways in which the smallest known particles in the universe react to each other, and how everything can be so different despite being made up of these particles. It’s humbling to think that, for all the differences in creation, me and the computer I’m typing this up on are the same thing. So I have healthy subject interest and a very understanding and sympathetic lab instructor on my side, but that’s about it.

Unfortunately, UB chemistry wants money. My course, which is the rudimentary foundation of chemistry, has made such a sickening demand on my wallet that the textbooks and equipment for it alone have turned all my scholarship money into kitty chow. The lab equipment I need is ludicrously overpriced. The textbook rental cost over $100 and was by far the cheapest option – somehow the department gets away with photocopying pages, tossing them into ring binders, and charging upwards of $200 for a package which isn’t an official textbook, so it can’t be sold back to the bookstore for even a fraction of the money dished out for it. The most outrageous aspect of the course, however, is the fact that the department actually charges an insane amount of money for a goddamn code.

Think about that: A code. A thing you input into a computer – in this case, which can only be used once, so don’t dare think about fucking messing it up – to access the webpage that lets you know what the homework assignments are. What the hell ever happened to just giving them out on paper, in class? This is a long list of loopholes students are being forced to jump through, and really, it’s inexcusable. God forbid you should be having financial difficulty, because UB chemistry will literally prevent you from doing any reading or work if you’re not able to pay for a little code on a piece of paper that fucking takes 30 seconds to write down.

Meanwhile, I’ve discovered a genuine fascination with psychology, and switching my major to psychology would mean never having to deal with the chemistry department again. I realize I would have to work my way up to a doctorate for it to be of any use, and it’s something I’m quite willing to do. If I stick with my current major, well, this is just more motivation for me to excel at chemistry: A good student would probably have an easier time catching peoples’ ears about the department’s behavior than a student who is barely getting by.

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About Nicholas Croston

I like to think. A lot. I like to question, challenge, and totally shock and unnerve people. I am a contrarian - whatever you stand for, I'm against.

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