The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

University should keep students in mind when making improvements

The Blugold Commitment, as the school Web site defines it, is “a proposed initiative that would enable UW-Eau Claire to enhance quality through expanding value-added experiences for all students while also improving four-year graduation rates.”

Now that’s all well and good, and who wouldn’t be supportive of a school trying to better itself? But I think the main concern for me as a student is that the university doesn’t lose sight of the students in trying to improve the experience.

Yes, graduating in four years is ideal, but personally, I don’t want to sacrifice the quality of my education to meet a deadline.

Before I did all my homework for this piece, the only thing I really knew about the commitment proposal was the tuition increase encouraging the students to get out in four years. This seems to be the highly debated part of the proposal, and rightly so.

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However, it can also be an obstacle that blinds us from the true nature of the proposal.

Tuition is a big deal and, of course, no one enjoys seeing their payments go up. But the truth is the university needs more funds to cover the decrease in state funding. If the plan in fact works, it will save students money in the long run because they won’t have to go extra semesters. I wanted to address the tuition issue only briefly because it is important but the price increase is currently just an estimate, and should be discussed more in-depth once things are finalized.

What I’m concerned with is that the school may be focused more on the issues coming from the school system than the issues coming from the student.

At UW-Eau Claire, the graduation rate for students who go four years is only 26 percent. So there clearly is an issue. But from all the students I know who have to go an extra semester or two, which by no means includes everyone, there have been very few complaints about class availability or advisors being the problem. In my experience, the delay comes from when the students declare a major or the nature of their major.

For incoming freshmen, 25 to 30 percent come in undeclared. Part of me wonders if the school expects them to declare a major within their first semester on campus and if so, is that fair?

Many students come here for the countless options available to them and I’m worried this initiative might limit exploration, which would go against the philosophy of a liberal arts education.

The other reason for students taking up to five years is simply the program they are in requires it.

Our education program is notorious for delaying the four-year graduation. But that by no means comes as a surprise to an education major, even before they get here. It’s not usually that the classes aren’t available, its just there are so many required that an extra semester or two is necessary. While Eau Claire’s school of education is difficult to get into, it is also renowned for its excellence, so to change the curriculum could possibly risk its quality.

This fast track to graduation may be the least important thing to focus on. If a student is intent on graduating in four years, they can make it happen in most cases. I’m a junior and I was able to study abroad and I’m still able to graduate in four years because I planned far in advance. The advisors we have are there for you to use, and maybe the issue is they are not being used enough.

I came to Eau Claire because I knew they had a high standard for excellence and my hope is this program will only strengthen this standard instead of making it weaker.

Years from now, when I talk about my college career, I’m not going to brag about getting out in four years or be ashamed of going four and a half. I will brag about the quality of the education I received and I hope we don’t lose track of that.

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