As a departmental chair, I feel it’s my duty to keep an eye on our department’s enrollments as the new school year approaches, but inevitably I pay special attention to the enrollments in my own classes, and I am dismayed to see that my section of Introduction to Literature is lagging far behind the others. One of my colleagues’ sections has already reached its maximum of 45 students; mine languishes at just nine.
Fortunately, we professors are trained in explaining things away. After all, the low numbers may have more to do with the time slot than anything else: mine is the only section that includes a class on Friday, and students hate coming in on Fridays. Or maybe it’s my reputation for demanding excellence which is keeping the students away. They think I’m “too hard,” but I know I that I simply have admirably high standards. Besides, by the time the first day of classes rolls around, all the sections will be full, so what does it matter?
But then another number catches my eye. That nine is after four students have dropped the course. Four students have dropped the course already and it hasn’t even started. Was it something I haven’t said yet?