The dreadful dead semester

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General education requirements are near completion, and all that’s left is applying to a major when suddenly a student is hit with reality: it’ll be a whole semester until they can actually begin major classes.

Students who face a dead semester face having to delay graduation and future careers. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

Dead semesters happen when students apply to their major but can’t begin the major classes until the following semester when they are officially accepted.

Students who find themselves in this situation are faced with a semester where they either need to take more general education requirements, work more hours at their job or drop out of school for the semester until admitted into their program.

Shannon Reynolds, a nursing major, faced obstacles while applying to the nursing program.

“I had applied for the nursing program, but my GPA wasn’t as good as it should have been,” Reynolds said. “So during my dead semester, I finished all of my generals that would not be covered in the nursing program and I took a few easier classes to get my GPA up.”

Reynolds knew since she first watched the movie “Pearl Harbor” she wanted to be a nurse. It took her two attempts to get into the nursing program, but she knew that being admitted would be worth her efforts.

Upon being admitted to the nursing program, she was faced with a dead semester. Rather than looking at it as a negative experience, she saw her dead semester as the perfect opportunity to pursue other dreams.

“Having a dead semester didn’t really put me behind,” Reynolds said. “It was actually perfect, now that I can think back on it. I ended up leaving the nursing program to serve a mission and, because of when I got in the program, I was able to leave at a perfect time.”

Unlike Reynolds, others looked at this experience as being more burdensome than positive.

Carly Ludlow, who is studying nursing and faced a dead semester, spent her time being involved in productive pursuits. During her dead semester, Ludlow retook classes, switched jobs, got engaged and married and served as the first counselor in Relief Society. Though she achieved wonderful things during her dead semester she still was put behind to graduate.

“I will graduate later then everyone else my age by far, and I’ll be older when I’m finally settling down into my own place,” Ludlow said. “And it might take me longer to get out of debt.”

Different departments at BYU have seen the negative side effects a dead semester can have on students. To prevent the dead semester from occurring, departments have changed policies or offered students the opportunity to take major classes before being admitted into their major program.

Recently, the Communications Department has changed its program to prevent the dead semester. Starting Fall 2013, students will have the option of taking two communication classes during the semester they are applying to their program.

To counteract the dead semester, the department of engineering has offered three application deadlines a year, which allows students the opportunity to apply year round. After the application courses are complete, students must take two semesters’ worth of courses before officially being admitted into the program.

The Marriott School of Management advises business students to prevent dead semesters by coming in early to the business advisement center to plan ahead.

The business school also offers a number of classes that are not prerequisite classes but can be taken by students before admittance.

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