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Oct. 27, 2014

Students adjusting to credit switch

By Dan Levindofske

The big switch seems to be all the rage these days, or at least that’s what it was supposed to be and what the university thought it would be.

Everybody on campus heard about the big switch for what seemed like forever. Now it is finally in effect this semester, and it has not been going as well as expected, according to students.

The attitude toward the 4-to-3 credit conversions seems to be negative, and the biggest concern is how students are adjusting to it.

Under the new three credit system, class times have all been shortened, most to only 50 minutes per meeting. This has been a difficult change for students and faculty because there is less time to accomplish necessary tasks.

Some students feel that this can be a positive for classes that simply meet general education requirements, in which 50 minutes is more than enough time to cover the material — the previous class times were seen by some students as a waste of time.

While this may be true for gen-eds, for more concentrated and intensive courses, the shortened class time can be a detriment.

Nick Lucci, a junior Graphic Design major, has had a frustrating time adjusting to the big switch due to its effect on class times.

“The loss of lab time is the biggest transition,” Lucci said. “With three lab classes, I went from nine hours and 45 minutes of lab time to three hours and 45 minutes.”

Thanks to the big switch, lab classes are now treated as regular classes, or at least given the same amount of class time.

“The issue is that all my art classes should be lab classes but they got switched,” Lucci said. “So now we have [just] as much work but only an hour and a half of class time versus three hours.”

The change in class times also affects how much time students have between classes.

While there is generally more time in between classes and class times are more spread out, this is not the case for some students.

Carly Punzo, a junior Communication major, has a few minutes to get from one side of campus to the other.

“Between my first and second class, I only have five minutes to get from the music and communication building to ASL [in the Main Classroom building],” Punzo said.

Another concern with the big switch is how it affects students in terms of graduation. Many students have been faced with the choice of taking extra classes or having to stay an additional semester.

Vince Caspio, a junior advertising major, has noticed a change in workload and will likely see his graduation delayed another term.

“I have a slightly bigger workload and need extra classes,” Caspio said. “I will have to possibly take another semester.”

Lucci also found himself in the same boat as Caspio and was none too pleased.

“The worst part is that I had to take one more class to get one less credit hour,” Lucci said.
This is certainly not what students had hoped for when the university made claims of a seamless transition with minimal effects on students who had been in a program prior to the switch.

The 4-to-3 conversion sent students flocking to their advisors to make sure they were headed in the right direction and on track for graduation.

Gary Pettey, an advisor in the School of Communication, said most students were on track, but some students had not followed the plan laid out for them.

“The only students who have had any serious problems are the ones who didn’t, or couldn’t, follow the plan that we made last spring,” Pettey said. “The biggest issue has been students who were going to take certain classes last summer.”

The most changes occurred within the student’s major, with requirements and credit hours changing.

The university expected the transition to be easier because students would presumably take more classes each semester — a lapse in judgment on the administration’s part.

Students already have a big enough workload as it is, along with responsibilities outside of school, and adding more to that is simply not something that students want to do.

“Between working 40 hours a week and taking on five classes — three of which being design lab classes — I had to drop two classes just to keep up with the curriculum,” Lucci said.

Not only is the workload larger, but shorter class times make it even more difficult to complete work in more focused classes.

“We’re actually having to skip some lessons completely, and the professors have to change their exams and syllabi too,” Punzo said. “I’ve had a lot of dates for papers and midterms have to be changed and a lot of other dates are just kind of up in the air.”

The uncertainty of lesson plans and due dates does not bode well for students from an organizational perspective.

“This kind of makes things more difficult for me, because I like to plan ahead to know when to get things done,” Punzo said.

Senior Jason Rodrigo, a Political Science major, also thought that shortened class times made it more difficult to grasp the information, which led to negative effects on productivity.

“The instructors rush through their material and it’s not enough time for questions,” Rodrigo said.

The general sentiments regarding the switch seem to be overwhelmingly negative from students who have had to make the transition from the four-credit hour system. Although there are some bright spots, the way in which the switch affects class productivity swings the overall view of the move.

“I hate the switch,” Rodrigo said. “It doesn’t give students enough time to learn.”