Is a degree in four years possible at SCSU?
Amy Kulikowski – Special to the Southern News
Within the four state universities in Connecticut, SCSU has adopted the term as being a five-year school. Southern has fallen behind Central Connecticut State University at a 52 percent graduation rate, and Eastern Connecticut State University at 52.7 percent, according to data from College Measures.
Marianne Kennedy, associate vice president for academic affairs, says some of the issues that contribute to a longer college career are transfer students, changing majors, and other responsibilities or financial reasons students may face.
In 2011, the state colleges and universities started to merge into one system. Since then, Kennedy says the campus has been working on different solutions.
“We started working on a transfer and articulation plan. The transferring from the community colleges from students that complete their associates degree there will be much smoother, and all their credits will count towards something,” said Kennedy, “and with good advisement, you shouldn’t lose anything.”
But for students like Stephanie Habeerman, senior computer information systems major, she will not be graduating this year. Habeerman transferred from High Point University in North Carolina, and had trouble with her credits transferring to SCSU.
“I had maybe three, four, or five credits going towards actual classes and 60 electives,” said Habeerman. “I think if you transfer here, you definitely will not be able to graduate Southern in four years.”
However, students that transfer to the university in the future may be getting some help with graduating on time. Kennedy says the school is creating curriculum maps for every major to show students how they can graduate in four years and make sure they are staying on track.
“The map identifies what courses you need to take in the four years to get out in 120 credits. It lays out all the general education courses, all the tiers, and the courses you are taking in the department. We will have these available eventually; we are working on them now for every single major at the university,” said Kennedy.
She is also trying to educate students on credits. Kennedy says, “If you don’t take 15 credits a semester, unless you take a lot of summer courses, you will not be able to graduate in four years. You are paying the same tuition as if you are taking 12 credits or 15 credits. Twelve credits is considered full time, for financial purposes, but if you think about being cost effective, you are paying the same thing for 12 or 15 credits.”
Dave Ostroff, senior journalism major, took at least three summer classes, and is close to graduating on time. Previously he was a phycology major, but switched majors after his sophomore year and his general education requirements were finished.
Not only do Habeerman and Ostroff show examples of what kinds of problems students face, but can also help the university progress. Kennedy says she thinks the university gained its five-year reputation over time.
“A lot of our programs grew to more than 120 credits and our advising wasn’t as sharp as it could have been, but I think we have really changed,” said Kennedy. “It started back in 2007-2008 when we developed the first year experience program, and that was really when we started focusing on students success, and keeping them here and getting them out more quickly.”
It seems the university’s reputation given by its students have started to rub off in a positive way. Being a college student has never been easy, but the way SCSU is changing its advising and its effort for students to graduate in four years could make it all a little easier.
Photo Credit: Derek Torrellas