It's registration time at my current institution, or as it might better be called from the student e-mails I'm receiving, "shopping season." I've been getting e-mails from students telling me that they're interested in maybe taking my course X, and could I send them a syllabus? Or tell them about the topics we'll be covering? Oh, and can I tell them about the grading?
I'd applaud these students' initiative, except that the ones I've heard from have mentioned specific things about themselves (majors, recreational activities) that can only lead me to think that they're not interested in finding out if my course will meet their particular intellectual interests - they're shopping around to find a course with the minimum requirements.
Now, I think it's perfectly reasonable for students to assess their time/interest levels and try to figure out what courses will best fit their needs in a given term. Yes, if you're in a spring sport and you know you're going to have to miss a bunch of classes, taking a lab science that term probably isn't the best idea. Or if you're taking organic chemistry, or writing your senior thesis, and want to balance those out with less demanding courses - sure, I understand that. But for some reason - maybe just because I'm an evil old woman - I'm a little irked by students contacting me to find out how much work my course entails. Maybe it's because of the unhelpful way they ask about such things? One asks me to tell hir about my "grading system" - well, you know, it looks kind of like it does in the rest of the university, A through F - pretty standard, really. Another wants to know, "how are the exams?" (NLLDH suggested I answer "long and torturous," which is awfully tempting.)
Again, I realize this isn't fair, because the average undergrad, especially if they're not majoring in your department, doesn't always have the vocabulary for talking about such things in the way that professors do. Still, it is awfully difficult to know how to answer the question, "How are your exams?" If you ask me how many there are, what format they are, cumulative or not, whatever - that's cool. But how are they? They're doing nicely, thank you, how are you?