Taylor’s slice of nice: Sept 22, 2011

Story by Taylor Kuether

Taylor’s Slice of Nice is a semester-long column that will feature good things happening around the globe and take a look at how we can implement them locally. 


What they’re cooking up:

According to The New York Times, Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, N. C., is allowing this year’s freshmen to sign an agreement with the college promising that the student will graduate in no more than four years.

These agreements, which are now offered at 15 private colleges across the United States, promise that if the student keeps up with academic work and meets regularly with advisers, the school will hold up their end of the bargain. Meaning, if required courses are unavailable or advisers give poor counsel, the university will pay for the student’s additional tuition until the degree is completed.

The agreement is meant to deter students from staying that extra year or two and costing their parents’ that extra year or two of tuition money (or, for those of us who were not born into six-digit trust funds, costing us that extra year or two of tuition money. Can I get an amen?).

Already, private universities like Randolph-Macon have higher four-year graduation rates than public universities like our UW System schools — typically, 80 percent of students at private schools graduate in four years, versus only 50 percent at public schools.

The deal has stipulations, such as the student not failing any classes and not spending excessive semesters studying abroad, but for the most part, the deal is appealing to parents and students alike.


How it can be

I can count the amount of people I know graduating in only four years on one hand. Really. And let me tell you, I am not one of those fingers being counted. Nope, I’m on the five-year plan and absolutely not by choice.

What delays us from graduating? The same things Randolph-Macon is trying to deter: unavailable courses and sometimes-shady advising. We all know that the CampS system is our foe, our sworn enemy, maybe even evil itself, but the week of registration, it turns from the usual migraine headache into the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, killing every dream of a timely graduation in
its path.

Aside from getting rid of CampS (which, unlucky reader, will not happen), perhaps our advising program could be strengthened. More emphasis could be placed on students and advisers alike being on the same page from the very beginning, selecting classes together that make sense to the student’s path.

I remember coming in as a freshman and feeling utterly overwhelmed by all the general education requirements being thrown at me on top of courses for my major and minor ­— I couldn’t make sense of it all, and I suspect I’m not alone. I would have loved to have done my first semester of freshman year what I learned I could do just last semester: together with my adviser, fill out a Student’s Degree Plan form (if you don’t know what that is or haven’t filled one out, drop this newspaper immediately and find the nearest academic adviser. It will change your life.).

The best way UW-Eau Claire could achieve the same four-year graduation results is to implement the agreement plan ourselves, but as a public school in a state where education funding is being slashed at an alarming rate,
that’s unlikely.

What we can learn from schools like Randolph-Macon College is this: Student success really comes down to both the student and the university, not the
student alone.




Taylor Kuether is a junior print journalism major and Editorial Editor at The Spectator.