Part-time option should be open to last-semester students
While the majority of the senior class will be graduating this May, a significant number of seniors graduated a few days ago in a ceremony at Graham Chapel. Their reasons for graduating were varied, but they all shared at least one thing in common: none of them were part-time students. Under current Washington University policy, if a student chooses to graduate early, he must be a full-time student for his last semester here, even if he needs fewer than 12 credits to graduate. This policy is unfair to students and puts an undue financial burden on those who have already fulfilled many of their graduation requirements.
Many students who choose to graduate early do so for financial reasons. Forcing them to take at least 12 credits, and consequently pay for those credits, even if they do not need them to graduate makes little sense. If students only need one or two classes to graduate, the University ought not charge them thousands of dollars for classes they do not need to take. It is clear that such a policy exists for the University to extract more revenue from students that have no choice but to pay. The student must either enroll for more classes than necessary or grossly overpay for the few classes required, and the rational choice is just to enroll for more.
Allowing seniors to be part-time students would allow them to pursue research assistant positions or professional opportunities off campus to bolster a resume and gain work experience. But taking a full-time course load makes following up on these opportunities and commuting regularly difficult. The University should ask itself whether these students being in the classroom taking irrelevant classes is a better move for their future than garnering work experience. Other peer institutions, including the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University, allow for seniors in their final semester to declare part-time status. Washington University should follow suit.
Forcing students to take classes they do not want to take nor need to take is also a waste of both students’ and professors’ time. If by all reasonable standards, a student has completed the necessary coursework and credits needed to receive a degree from Wash. U., the University should not require him to take additional coursework to receive his degree.
Perhaps the most worrying aspect of this policy is its effect on students or families that have taken out loans to pay for their education. The University policy is directly placing more debt on to these individuals. The difference between having to take one class and four classes is thousands of dollars, which could mean additional years of debt for students.
The University ought to reconsider its current policy and the burdens it places on students. As Wash. U. attempts to become a more diverse, inclusive institution, it ought to reconsider policies that do nothing to better its students while also charging them thousands of dollars. Such policies seem philosophically opposed to University ideals.