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Matriculating with Credits? You’re SOL

When I was a student, I managed to cobble together three credits that served to save the ‘rents a term of tuition. During Freshman week I was able to pro out of European History (after a multiple choice exam and an essay — what a confidence builder!), and in subsequent years at the College, I talked my way into a credit for Italian and one for French.

Now it seems that the College is going to try to do away entirely with pre-matriculation credits that can be applied towards the 35 credits a student needs to graduate. The decision is not quite final due to a hiccup with the Thayer School of Engineering, but otherwise it’s a done deal — subject to a vote today. A student’s transcript will still reflect college-level courses taken before graduation (AP, IB, and other placement exams), and these will enable undergrads to avoid certain introductory courses, but they won’t count as courses for Dartmouth credit.

ORC Courses.jpg

The issue has been under discussion for a good while, but only now has the administration found the resolve to put through the rule, or almost put it through. Budget deficits have a way of concentrating the mind (wonderfully), and there is no doubt that this decision will put money in the College’s pocket — just as it would have in my day.

Let’s be fair to the administration here (at least, for a change of pace): a Dartmouth degree is about education, not about getting enough credits to graduate. Just as I believe that all students should go on a College foreign study program (none of this Portland State stuff), so, too, should students take a full complement of Dartmouth courses (right now students can earn as many as nine full pre-matriculation credits, potentially allowing them to take only 26 Dartmouth courses for credit — not counting courses taken under the auspices of other schools). If students want to save money, they should not do so by watering down the quality of their education.

That said, if the College wants to honor its commitment to undergrads, the extra money earned from students by this change of policy should be applied in full to hiring extra faculty members, so that the additional influx of students does not dilute the quality of the education that they receive. Fair is fair. But given the Folt crew curent priorities, I’ll bet that the extra money will go elsewhere, and if that occurs, the administration should be reproached.

Someone at the faculty meeting should ask IP Folt just how much extra demand for College courses this change will create. She knows the answer — probably quite exactly. And how much extra revenue will be generated. She knows that figure, too. That’s what budgeting involves. A follow-up comment should insist that the College takes steps so that the decade-long oversubscription problem does not get worse.

Addendum: This possible change will affect a great many students and their parents, yet The D has not a word on it. Wake up, Robinson Hall.

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