Nov 062003
 
Authors: Amy Resseguie

In the spring of 2006, Noah McKechnie, a junior mechanical

engineering major, will be graduating in four years.

McKechnie is an exception to the common belief that engineering

students cannot graduate in four years. He did it with the help of

an average of 17 credits each semester and the 26 Advanced

Placement credits he took while still in high school.

“I don’t think I could have graduated in four years without

taking AP classes,” he said.

Graduating after the traditional eight semesters has not come

without some sacrifices.

“I pretty much only have time to take classes for my major,”

McKechnie said, who said he would also like to study Italian and

German.

McKechnie is not alone. While graduating in four years remains a

possibility for many students, others are finding that if they

follow that plan, they do not have time to take courses that are

not required for their particular field of study.

Diverse education?

Gaye DiGregorio, assistant director of the Center for Advising

and Student Achievement, said that the number of free electives a

student may take varies by major. Engineering and teacher

certification programs have fewer free electives, while the liberal

arts often have more, she said.

DiGregorio said the All University Core Curriculum is designed

to give students in any major a well-rounded education by requiring

various classes across colleges and departments.

“That’s what separates a college degree from just getting

certified in a trade,” she said.

However, DiGregorio said that any student is able take courses

that interest them, even if they do not fulfill the student’s major

or AUCC requirements. DiGregorio recently advised a student who was

interested in studying both science and philosophy.

“The fact that he’s interested in both is really a gift, and

something that’s going to be an asset in the future,” she said.

DiGregorio suggests that students think carefully about what

kinds of electives they want to study and plan accordingly, so that

the electives support their education, rather than just being a

random conglomeration of courses.

Changing majors?

Jenny Dayton, a fifth-year speech communication major, will be

graduating in December. She changed her major from university open

option in her junior year and said there were not enough sections

of her speech courses available each semester to enable her to

graduate in four years.

Dayton said she has not considered taking any courses that do

not count toward her major, but that because she is in the liberal

arts, she is required to take courses in a variety of subjects.

Dayton has taken a few history classes that she really

enjoyed.

“If I had more time I might go for a minor in history,” she

said.

What if it doesn’t count?

Nathan Citino, assistant professor of history, will be teaching

the Modern Middle East course next spring. The course is not

specifically required for the history major but does count as an

upper-division elective. For non-history majors, the course is a

free elective that does not fulfill any AUCC requirements.

There is one section of the course, which is capped at 40

students. Citino said he gets many requests from students of all

majors for overrides into the class, and the section usually ends

up having between 43 and 45 students in it.

“It’s difficult for me to let everyone who would like to be in,

into that class, but I always override a few,” Citino said.

Citino said the course is popular with students in all majors,

especially political science, and ROTC members, in light of current

world events.

“The course is the history of the Middle East since 1800,”

Citino said. “It’s not primarily a current events course; it’s

designed to give students a historical context of antecedents to

current events.”

Citino wishes that more sections and smaller classes could be

offered, both to let more non-history majors take the course and to

better facilitate discussion in the classroom.

“I think it’s inherently valuable to study cultures different

from your own,” he said.

Extra semesters?

With the university’s inability to offer more class sections and

students’ desire to graduate sooner rather than later, if a student

wants to take courses not required for his/her major, he/she may

have to consider some other options, DiGregorio said.

“If a student says, ‘I absolutely want to graduate in four years

and I really want to learn Spanish,’ it may mean taking 18 credits

every semester or doing summer school,” she said.

However, both McKechnie and Dayton said that this really is not

an option for them.

McKechnie said he would be interested in taking summer school or

staying at CSU for another semester to take foreign language

courses. However, with tuition increases and cuts in scholarship

funds, he said he cannot afford it.

Dayton agreed, and said that she’s also just ready to

graduate.

“It’s more of a money issue, and senioritis.”

 

 

 

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