Monday, March 22, 2010

BA 42 Credit Hour Rule...A Good and Bad (Mostly bad) Rule

Like Neil and Steve, I too have had my own problems trying to get things done in this school. Also like them, I love the school but things have to improve internally if we are to get more students to come to Case.

Before I share my own "adventure," let me first point out that I am a graduating senior in the Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. This little journey I undertook concerns those who have are trying to get a BA degree. It involves the lovely rule known as the BA 42 Credit Hour Rule which I shall refer to as the BA42 from now on.

I was struck by this rule back in November of 2009 when I was trying to figure out what last minute courses do I need to take in order to graduate (I'm Asian, I like to over prepare). In our SIS system, I noticed that every category was labeled "Satisfied" except for one...The BA42. I have never seen this rule before and get this, the required credit hours I needed to fulfill it was 0.01 hours. Yeah....that made absolutely no sense. So I decided to e-mail the deans asking them about this rule and what I can do to fix it.

After waiting for about a week or so, I got....no response. That leaves the other choice of skipping one of my classes just to go in during their many (and by "many" I mean a few and inconveniently placed) hours. Fortunately, I was able to talk to a dean who informed me that the BA42 simply means that students cannot have more than 42 credit hours in their major. I had 45 credit hours in the ECON department, 3 hours over the limit, which meant that I had to take an additional 3 hours outside of the department in order to equalize the balance...I guess. Oh and in order to graduate, we need a total of 120 credit hours. With this rule, I had to take 123 credit hours in order to graduate. It is a way to prevent students from focusing too much on their major.

Yes, that's right. Prevent students from focusing too much on their major. Why the hell do I not want to focus too much on my major? Okay, I can see the logic behind this . You want to be able to explore more of the many courses that our school has to offer and I agree with that. One problem, how come we weren't informed of this rule and how come I never was warned I broke this rule?

At least the dean I talked to said that they can fix this by having me find courses I've taken as ECON and see if they were labeled as other department courses as well. I had two fortunately so problem solved right? Nope. Fast forward to February and they have not changed it. I had to talk to another dean, a different one since the secretary said that the dean I talked to was for underclassmen whereas I'm an upperclassmen. So I decide to go talk to a different dean without particularly caring whether or not they were under or upper. This dean told me that she'll e-mail the dean I talked to and e-mail the dean whom was assigned to me. Finally things were getting done.

I talk to the dean and she eventually had me fill out a form which switched the classes around so I would not break the rule. I was finally done. I can graduate...I hope.

So what is the point?
  • The BA42 is to get students to explore other classes
  • Go over the 42 credit hour limit, you are forced to take additional credit hours outside that department in additional to your total 120 credit hours.

I see the logic behind this but there are some issues that need to be resolved:
  • The deans don't really have all that great of hours for those who take a lot of classes
  • The deans never respond to e-mails from students...at least in my experience
  • The BA42 is not advertised nor are students warned/informed about it in any way whatsoever. I have friends whom I told about this rule and they found out they too broke the rule and had to try to find ways around it.
  • My advisor and the ECON department didn't know about BA42
  • The deans are themselves are split between the BA42. One thinks it's a stupid rule and I agree. The other thinks it's a great rule. The last one didn't really have a decisive opinion on it.

If you want to have this rule in placed, at least let the students know about the rule when they decide to major in the Bachelor of Arts. They claim that the SIS tells us but in reality, it only shows up when we are dangerously close to breaking it and it is not noticeable at all. Sure, it is our responsibility, I accept that. But can you please set up a better system to inform us about this rule so that we can graduate without having to stress out about whether or not we can graduate or not?