U proposal to cut excess credits raises concerns

The U wants to rein in students who stick around after hitting 120 credits.

Adam Daniels

“Super senior” status is common at the University of Minnesota, where less than half of all students graduate in four years.

The University is looking to eliminate excess credits students take beyond the 120 they need to graduate, which could save students thousands of dollars and allow the University to enroll more first years each year.

Administrators are convinced the increasing cost of education makes four-year graduation with close to the minimum number of credits required a high priority, said Cathrine Wambach, a faculty representative on the Senate Committee of Educational Policy.

Last spring, SCEP asked Vice Provost Robert McMaster to work on the problem with College of Liberal Arts schools, departments and the Council on Liberal Education.

There are currently a few proposals being discussed, including raising tuition for students who have enough credits to graduate but have yet to do so.

It has not been decided whether this would also affect double majors, who may have to extend their time at the University to complete their credits.

“As far as I know, there are no plans to try to limit the number of majors a student could declare,” Wambach said.

Declaring a major early enough to graduate on time can cause anxiety for many students.

“It seems like they want us to be cookie-cutter students, but education is a more organic process than that,” sixth-year Adrienne Kleinman said. “I think students will end up missing out on some great classes if theyâÄôre being pressured to graduate in four years.”

Anatoly Liberman teaches “Old Norse Language and Literature” in the Department of German, Scandinavian and Dutch. The course enrolls about 15 students a semester, and beyond fulfilling an upper division requirement it offers nothing toward graduation.

Liberman said the course is almost exclusively interest-based and, though small, is an important option for students to have.

“ItâÄôs very important to keep the fire burning âĦ If advisers were to keep saying, âÄòOh, you really donâÄôt have to take it,âÄô then I think the course will sort of die.”

None of the advisers contacted for this article would comment on whether they would advise against a certain class.

McMaster has established the Center for Academic Planning and Exploration, a new advising center that offers support for students who need help deciding on a major or transitioning between majors. The center is located in the Science Teaching and Student Services building and is staffed by experienced advisers from various departments.

SCEP asked McMaster to present a full report on the initiative at the end of the fall semester.

Between now and then, Liberman said he hopes administrators remember that students should be given freedom and time to study what they want.

“We need to focus on making an educated person,” Liberman said. “Not just a person with a degree.”