Students struggle to adjust to credit hour cap

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The Office of the Registrar has been addressing students' concerns since the change. Photo by Kaity Chaikowsky

In the midst of budget cuts, concern has arisen around the university administration’s decision to cut the credit hours included in tuition from 19 hours to 18 hours.

Although seemingly insignificant, this decision has had a negative effect on some students seeking more complicated degree plans.

Abigail Knapp is a senior who has had to give up a concentration due to the credit hour change. She is pursuing a major in business and had been planning to concentrate in international affairs by taking 19 credits fall semester of her senior year.

Her initial hope had been to major in international affairs, but because this major isn’t offered at UD, she decided to major in business with a concentration in international affairs.

Former provost Dr. Charles W. Eaker emailed the student body before registration for classes had opened up for the fall 2017 semester, informing them of the change in block tuition range.

“We hadn’t registered for classes, but I already had my schedule planned out in January,” Knapp said.

She emailed Eaker asking for an exemption. He responded that “in fairness to all students” he couldn’t make the exception.

Knapp is now leaning toward not paying the extra $1,430 for another credit hour and graduating solely as a business major.

Other students who might be affected include those in the ROTC program who have to take extra classes for the program, with semesters sometimes topping out at 19 or 20 credits.

Often, university programs like the music department’s UD Chorale prove active participation of the student body to the administration based on how many people register for the class, even though registration is not essential for the students to participate.

Now, it will be harder for students with already full schedules to fit extracurriculars like this into their official calendars, which could result in an inaccurate view of extracurricular involvement for the administration.  

When the provost sent out the March 2017 email detailing the change, he noted that “the block tuition range for other schools like UD is 12-18 credit hours,” which is true.

Although he was was not a decision maker in the credit hour change, Dean Jonathan Sanford was consulted on the decision.

“It’s common to universities like ours to have 18 credits as the max, so we fit that common standard.”

This is true; schools like Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Trinity University in San Antonio, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and St. Edward’s University in Austin all have the same 12-18 hour block tuition range.

He commented that from a more general view the reason for a credit hour limit at all is to push against the temptation to “earn as many merit badges as possible.”

He noted that sometimes students try to earn as many concentrations and majors that they can, and that this is not a healthy thing.

“That would cause students not to dip as deeply into the disciplines that they are focused on,” Sanford said.

Katherine McGraw, from the Office of the Registrar, has heard complaints from students who were impacted, but has said that the complaints were minimal and could usually be resolved.

Some students came to the Office of the Registrar with credits from summer internships that rolled over to this year.

The office was able to reduce the number of credit hours in the internship in order to accommodate the hours they wanted to include this year.

The registrar will come out next week with a complete credit hour census, detailing the exact impact this decision has had on students.

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