Bruce Chubb: Thwarting students’ learning pace

The new academic and advising protocols have good intentions but ultimately harm students’ ability to learn  important course materials. Graduation is the pinnacle of a successful education, especially in the collegiate world. The goal for

The new academic and advising protocols have good intentions but ultimately harm students’ ability to learn  important course materials.

Graduation is the pinnacle of a successful education, especially in the collegiate world.
Bruce Chubb head shot

The goal for many college students is to receive their degree in four years. However, as statistics show, it takes an average student anywhere from five to eight years to earn their bachelor’s degree.

Temple has a graduation matriculation rate of 67 percent in six years, but the university has currently revised four academic policies and plans to implement a fifth policy for the Spring 2012 semester to thwart late graduation among seniors.

Academic policy revision is exactly what Temple needs, however, the university’s efforts to encourage on-time graduation will do little to help students achieve academic success.

College is riddled with frustration, setbacks and financial burdens, creating more anxiety than a healthy dose of Valium or Prozac can manage.

Most students, at some point in their college career, will be faced with the disappointment of withdrawing or failing a necessary course required for graduation. Students sometimes take a course four, five and six times before they finally get that C- or better.

Possibly the most important revision is the course repetition policy. Currently, undergraduates can take a course as many times as necessary – the new policy will only allow a student to retake a course once.

All other attempts to retake classes require special permission from the dean of the college the course falls under.

I find this to be a bogus rule that will only cause aggravation. Some students may need to take a course more than once to fully grasp its concept.

On the contrary, Temple does offer excellent tutoring programs to alleviate confusion. Students that need extra help should take responsibility and consult a tutor.

But honestly, some courses are so challenging they may need extra attention.

“It’s absurd, to be honest. I’m taking a physics course this semester, and this class alone will have a ton of withdrawals,” said Nico Masciantonio, a junior chemistry major. “What if you end up with a bad professor? I’ve been to three other universities, and professor quality is key.”

Aside from the new course repetition revisions, the new withdrawal policy makes me cringe. Previously, students could withdraw from a single class up to five times, but now, students will be allowed to withdraw from a course only once. In turn, that withdrawal will count as taking the class once, leaving them with only one attempt at passing the course left. The only exception to the rule is medical leave.

“Students should have some reassurance that if you need to withdrawal from a course you can and not worry about repercussions,” Liza Ferri, a sophomore pre-pharmacy major, said. “The new policy is going to put more pressure on students.”

Withdrawals are like a gift from the university gods – not only do they save us from academic demise, but they give us some breathing room. Taking away the ability to withdraw more than once is a disastrous idea.

In addition to the policy revisions, the university’s academic advisers are following new protocol. The risk-based retention program, a system that will monitor the academic progress of “at risk” student or students that might drop out of the university early, may counteract the new policies and eliminate the need for them to be enforced.

The program is meant to deter students from leaving Temple without receiving a degree, a program that, if used correctly, may have nullifying effects on the harsh academic policy changes to come.

Advisers will stay in close contact with the at-risk students in efforts to keep them on the right track for graduation, which makes this a program better than the policy revisions.

Temple is an outstanding institution, with distinguished professors and a diverse student body.

However, it is that same diversity among students that may rely on those old academic policies. Some students learn at different paces and may need an extra push or that overbearing, “the third time’s a charm” mentality to advance through Temple’s ranks.

I cannot say the new policy changes are a bad idea because sometimes, change is necessary. But Temple must look at the university under a microscope as a living breathing organism and treat the students, not as statistics, but as individuals with individual needs.

Bruce Chubb can be reached at

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