Credit hours trimmed for timely graduations

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    By CATHY ANN SCHMIT

    Graduation incentives have significantly influenced the quality of education and have led to more timely graduations, said Gary L. Kramer, associate dean over admissions and records.

    In the 1994-1995 school year, 883 of the 6,310 graduates finished in four years. That’s only 14 percent, said Janet Rex of BYU Public Communications.

    The trend over the last five years shows that students are taking fewer semesters to finish school, Rex said.

    Rex said in 1990 students took an average of 11.9 semesters to graduate. After graduation incentives were introduced in 1994, the number dropped to 11.2, the difference of almost an entire semester.

    “I am pleased with the incentives for timely graduation. There has been very good progress,” Kramer said.

    The new general education program is stronger because it is streamlined, which allows for a faster and more efficient education, said John Tanner, associate academic vice president.

    BYU does not want to send out the message that students are lazy, said Brent Harker, director of BYU Public Communications. He said the purpose of the incentives is to remove the roadblocks that are keeping students from timely graduations.

    Paul A. Cox, dean of general education and honors, said he hopes the new program will broaden students’ lives and will “be viewed as an opportunity instead of an obstacle.”

    Cox hopes the program will help students live richer lives and enjoy their GE classes.

    The new incentives will “extend BYU’s services to others,” Harker said. The incentives offered include a variety of functions geared toward helping students graduate.

    One of the major incentives is the drop in tuition for Spring and Summer Terms by 27 percent, Harker said. During the first two years after the tuition cut there was about a 2,000 student jump in enrollment.

    Another incentive includes an increase in tuition for students who have been in the undergraduate program for more than 10 semesters, Harker said.

    Beginning in Fall 1998, there will be a 25 percent tuition increase after students’ 10th semester. Each following semester another 25 percent will be added, until the 14th semester, when tuition is increased by 100 percent.

    Transfer students from certain two-year colleges who have received associate’s degrees may transfer with their GE requirements already fulfilled, Harker said.

    Advisement centers are also making significant progress with faculty mentors, mandatory advisers for students on academic probation and Major Academic Plans, which help students plan schedules for timely graduation, Tanner said.

    Tanner served on a committee which conducted a stringent study of major requirements. The committee suggested that a maximum of 60 hours be set for any degree. He said part of the study was to find the pinches in the system and to help students maximize their time at BYU.

    The study resulted in a 7.5 credit hour reduction on average per program, Tanner said. Kramer said the progress has been significant. Some degrees exceed the 60 hour limit, but they require those hours for accreditation or certification.

    Besides the major evaluations, the GE core was revamped, Harker said. The core was reduced by 3.5 credit hours and was altered to serve as a universal program that is major blind; that is, it can be followed by all students regardless of their major, Cox said.

    “We want the GE classes to be the highlight of students’ BYU experience,” Cox said.

    The progress continues with each passing semester and the university looks forward to further advancement.

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