By JOANNA KASPE
As students continue to be nudged toward graduation in four years, the question remains of whether it is possible.
“Graduation in four years, or 8 full semesters, is possible, but it doesn’t happen very often,” said Brent Harker, director of Public Communications.
“I would say that the majority of students can graduate in four years, but then marriage, family, a mission, work and other things all interrupt the plan,” said Brenda Butterfield, academic supervisor for the College of Fine Arts and Communications.
Amy Pearson, a junior majoring in Near Eastern Studies, agrees.
“Some people are really intent on graduating in four years, but others want to take their time,” she said. “I am delayed in graduation two extra years because I switched majors.”
“Those who are persisting to graduation are taking an average of 11.9 semesters, or almost six years, to obtain what we euphemistically refer to as a four-year degree,” said former BYU president Rex E. Lee in one of his devotional speeches.
“That number has gone down to 11.6 for the 1994/1995 school year. So, there has been some improvement,” Harker said.
“I’m going to graduate in four years, but I don’t think that I’ve ever taken fewer than 16 credits,” said Maren Holt, a junior from San Jose, Calif., majoring in elementary education. “Sometimes I have had to take 18 credits a semester. However, that isn’t feasible for everyone. I think the university could do a lot more to help.”
According to Harker, the university is doing much to help by revising many areas to better facilitate graduation.
Some of the revisions include changes in major credit hours, class scheduling, an increase in faculty and advisement, and the implementation of tuition surcharges after 10 semesters.
Harker said that what the university has done to help facilitate graduation — by cutting down on the number of credit hours required in each department — is implemented in the catalogs for next year.
In a past speech, Lee said, “We are asking that every academic program limit its major requirement to 60 credit hours, or bear the heavy burden of showing that there is a compelling reason for an exception.”
“In scheduling, more classes have been made available to the students. We now have on-demand registration for some of the larger classes,” Harker said. “When one class is full, another is automatically opened. The university is also hopeful for an increase in faculty members. A significant portion of the $250 million Capitol Campaign announced last week is aimed at the increase in faculty.”
Overall, advisement has also improved for freshmen and those who are further along in their areas of study.
The BYU Freshman Academy, designed to give students a better start in college, groups freshmen together in the living areas and enrolls them in the same basic classes.
For those who are further along in their area of study, major advisors are available.
“The ultimate goal in counseling with the students admitted to the major is to make graduation as easy and effortless as possible,” Butterfield said. “That way, when they are ready to graduate, there isn’t a sudden panic on the part of the student because they have one class left to take that they didn’t know about.”
“Another change is in tuition,” Harker said. “Tuition surcharges will be implemented in 1998. This will increase the tuition by 25 percent each semester the student is in attendance at BYU after 10 Fall/Winter Semesters. Tuition will not go any higher than the 100 percent increase in the fourth semester.”
“Overall, I think it’s very important to graduate, to do closure and move on to the next chapter in life, although we have to be realistic,” Butterfield said.