BY MAGGIE MCCONNAHA
Call me a nerd if you want, but when I was preparing for advisement this year I was disappointed when I went through the course catalog. Not because there weren’t enough choices, but because there are lots of classes I wish I could take! However, because of the current credit system and my choice of major, a lot of the really interesting electives I’d love to take will go unexplored.
Most other college and university institutions work on the 3-credit system where each class meets for three hours a week and a student takes 5-6 classes (15 or 18 credits). SNC currently locks students into either 12 or 16 credits, offering only a few 2-credit classes for students looking for something extra. Additionally, SNC charges students on a per credit basis for classes over 18 credits. So even students who feel they are not being challenged are forced to stay in the typical four-class-a-semester schedule. And despite the new changes to the class system, the four-class semester will, unfortunately, continue next year.
Up until this coming year, each class met for almost four hours a week, which translated to 4 credits. However, this coming year with the new course schedule, each class will meet for exactly 3 hours a week. It would follow that the classes would become 3 credits then, instead of 4. However, after talking to the Registrar, my adviser and President Tom Kunkel, I found that they will not. Though students will still be paying for 4 credit-hours, they will only be receiving 3 hours of class time.
If SNC switches to a 3-credit class system, there are many advantages. First, courses from other institutions will transfer more easily, because most others already have 3-credit classes. That would make SNC more friendly to transfer students and let current students who live far away take summer/winter classes near their home and not have to worry as much if the credits could transfer back.
In addition, students would be able to follow the liberal arts tradition better if given the opportunity to take more elective courses instead of making sure they fulfill different major/minor/core curriculum requirements in a limited amount of time. If they could possibly take six classes a semester instead of four, they would be more likely to not only go above and beyond the requirements of their major but possibly find a new passion or interest they never would have thought about before taking a class outside of any requirements, too.
Kunkel explains that keeping the 4-credit system is the start of the switch to a flipped classroom where there are more expectations for students to do solo work outside of class instead of sitting in lecture. According to him, many professors don’t need the four hours a week of class time they are given to teach.
According to English professor John Neary, the new schedule gives students more responsibility than they currently have. He states that oftentimes students choose not to do assigned reading or other assignments because they know the professor will use up class time to go over everything. Next year, because students will have less lecture time than now, not everything will be covered in class. Students will be taking more responsibility and initiative in their own learning. Neary also states that should SNC switch to a 3-credit class system, it would need at least a third more classes and professors to cover the demand—something that isn’t economically feasible for the college right now.
So while a 3-credit class system would allow SNC students to pursue classes outside of their majors and take courses they’ll never be able to again, the switch comes with a price that would have to be negotiated within the college community.
One way to meet halfway between these ideas is to create more 2-credit courses. This would allow students to take 18 credits if they wished in areas that would count on their transcripts but not cost them any extra money. These classes could be shortened introductory courses or special topics classes that don’t need any prerequisites, just to be taken out of interest. I invite the college community to take this idea into consideration when planning for future courses. Students at SNC are hungry to learn but are currently limited in what they can take. If we can’t make the switch to 3 credits a class, let’s find a way to let students take more electives.