CareerFor StudentsOpinion

No Time for Contemplating- New Policy Requires Students to Graduate within Four Years

Fall semester is officially here and students are preparing for the upcoming semester and, eventually, graduation.

Some students confident in their chosen career path are working toward finishing their four year degree; others are contemplating different majors and trying to decide what degree is best for them. There is no difference between these two groups, because, as of 2019, all students are required to graduate within four years regardless of their uncertainty.

This means that any student wanting to change his or her major is unable to do so, unless the change does not interfere with a four year graduation track. Students cannot add on extra classes, earn a double-major, or even a minor, if it means exceeding the four year limit. The same rules apply to transfer students, but graduation must take place within two years.

The 10-55 policy has been implemented by all Florida public universities due to a state mandated statute change. The change requires all universities to provide a report on “performance based metrics” each fiscal year. 

The USF policy states, “The University of South Florida (USF) is committed to facilitating undergraduate students through their academic progress to degree. This Policy is intended to guide students to on-time degree completion without earned excess credit hours.” Essentially, funding for public universities has become more competitive than ever. The incentive for USF to rush students out in four years in order to collect more money is now enormous.

How does this discrete, yet crucial, change in policy affect students? Unfortunately, because this policy was not announced to the student body – perhaps due to the many problems it poses – many students will have to find out the hard way from their advisor when they attempt to add on extra classes or switch majors.  

The average student doesn’t begin their major-concentrated classes until after completing general education requirements during the first  2 years. At this point students are just beginning to discern what their chosen field might have to offer. Although the journey of working toward graduation may feel long and stagnant, life itself is ever-changing. Students are constantly learning, evolving, and changing their minds. This is entirely normal and how college is supposed to work. How many times have parents and other adults assured us, “you can always change, this is the time for exploration!” Not anymore. 

How can students be expected to make such a permanent, concrete decision during a deeply impermanent phase of their lives? What if a student completes 90 percent of their education degree only to realize they have a passion for law and want to add a minor in criminal justice, or even a double major? Should students be expected to dismiss or repress their newly discovered passions when choosing a career with no questions asked? Has USF considered how students feel about this new policy change and the pressure it brings? Do they even care? 

What about you? How do you feel, knowing you’re just another number among thousands who are  paying for a giant, money-making corporation?

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