Archive for Monday, May 9, 2011

KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences now requiring re-admitted students to meet current graduation requirements

May 9, 2011


Officials at Kansas University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences said they were happy to help 93-year-old Margaret Shirk earn a degree that she never applied for seven decades ago.

Shirk walked down the hill and finished all her courses, she just never applied for her degree. Under the existing policy, she was able to use her requirements from the 1930s to obtain her degree in the 21st century.

But a new policy would prevent her — and many others who leave school just a few hours shy of a degree — from earning that degree without fulfilling the current degree requirements.

The new policy essentially places a 10-year time limit on using the requirements from the student’s date of admission, said Kim McNeley, assistant dean of liberal arts and sciences, unless they stay continually enrolled in school.

“Sometimes, folks think about a liberal arts and sciences degree and think it’s the same thing as it was 100 years ago,” McNeley said. “We don’t think that’s the case.”

The requirements have changed over the decades. Math requirements are much stricter today than in the past, and elements such as a course in non-Western culture have been added. For employers, especially, she said, the college wants to ensure that degrees issued from KU are all comparable to each other, and represent that a student has learned a similar set of skills.

If a student is re-admitted 10 years or more after the initial degree-seeking term, the student must use the most current set of requirements. Such time limits are common in KU’s professional schools, but have been lacking in the college of liberal arts and sciences, which houses the largest number of KU students, McNeley said.

Robert Sorem, associate dean for undergraduate studies in KU’s School of Engineering, said all readmitted engineering students must meet the current school requirements, but added it’s seldom a major issue for students.

Students in the college will be grandfathered in to the old rules, McNeley said, provided they apply for the summer session. The deadline to apply is May 24 for readmitted students. She said the college had tried to reach out to as many people as possible who would be affected by the change.

“Once they hit 90 hours, we stay in contact every semester,” McNeley said of students who left in good academic standing, making sure that students understand their options for readmission and to check on their plans.

The college doesn’t have contact information for all former students, she said, but has reached out to the ones whose information they had.

Even if the students have to use new requirements, their old coursework would still be counted, so they’re not starting from zero, McNeley said.

Jim Yonally, a former state representative who is Shirk’s son-in-law, said that while he would have been disappointed in KU’s decision not to grant Shirk a degree — “She earned it,” he said — he would have understood the university’s reasoning.

“I earned an Ed.D. in 1972. With that degree, I would be qualified to be a superintendent,” he said. “But woe to the school district that would hire me today.”


Bill Lee 6 years, 11 months ago

Sounds like they're changing the rules in the middle of the game.

George_Braziller 6 years, 11 months ago

A diploma doesn't mean you are "qualified" for anything. Just means you did the work.

The most dense woman I ever knew had an MA but didn't know she had to change the oil in her car. She drove it for five years and then couldn't figure out why it wouldn't start.

Sometimes there needs to be bleach thrown into the gene pool.

Oh, my God she was stupid.

question4u 6 years, 11 months ago

I knew a person whose friend's sister's boyfriend's father had a Porsche. It couldn't even get up to 55 on the freeway.

Man was that car slow.

SnakeFist 6 years, 11 months ago

Using the same logic, a completed degree loses its relevence after ten years because newer graduates have met slightly different course requirements.

In fact, I thought the liberal arts dogma was that it doesn't teach a particular skill set but rather how to be a better person/citizen. Do the standards for being a better person/citizen change every ten years?

Brian Laird 6 years, 11 months ago

No it is not the same logic, because the year a degree is granted is usually listed in a resume along with the degree, so whoever looks at it could take that into account. Someone who took most of their biology classes in the 60s, but never completed the degree, could, without a time limit, take a few courses, apply for a 2012 biology degree and that would be the date listed on the degree, which would be misleading, as biology has changed significantly since the 1960s. Do you really think that would be appropriate.

Also, I guess you missed the "Sciences" part of "Liberal Arts and Sciences".....

SnakeFist 6 years, 11 months ago

Yes, it is the same logic. If I earned my degree in the 1990's then I took all of my classes in the 1990's, and since biology has changed significantly since the 1990's, the implication is that my degree is no longer relevant. I wonder if the biology professors have been informed that the degrees they earned more than ten years ago are out-of-date and irrelevant. And what about those applying to graduate school who earned their undergraduate degrees more than ten years ago?

I guess you missed the fact that the new rules also apply to the liberal arts part of liberal arts and sciences. Focus on science if you want, but it doesn't make my observation wrong.

Clearly its been more than ten years since you took a logic course.

SnakeFist 6 years, 11 months ago

Also, this rule doesn't address the issue you're raising (i.e., out-of-date major-specific knowledge), because this rule doesn't require returning students to retake classes they took more than ten years ago (i.e., "their old coursework would still be counted") - it only requires them to take any new classes that have been added to the graduation requirements. I would agree with the rule if it were limited to newly required classes within the student's major, but it isn't.

So, we're left with the notion that a biology degree from 1990 is inferior to a biology degree from 2011 not because the biology is out of date, but because the former is lacking the western civ courses.

Ronda Miller 6 years, 11 months ago

I'm wondering if the Liberal Arts Department is now willing to grandfather in graduate students who have been out for more than ten years as well. It seems as though they should as long as the student complies with completing any new requirements.

It is certainly unfair to have to start from scratch. If the University wants/needs to make money, encourage those close to completion that ability.

They would be much more likely to reenroll if it meant one or two semesters of additional course work as opposed to all of it.

Obviously fields such as science have changed more radically than creative writing, or some other majors.

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