Williams: Four-credit transition an unwieldy idea

With two majors, a minor and plans to study abroad, I think it's safe to say that I'm milking Geneseo for all its academic worth.

I'm not the only one; the typical Geneseo student values the opportunity to learn and exceed academically. Therefore, it concerns me that our school has resorted to the possibility of manipulating our academic infrastructure to save money. Switching from a more than sufficient three-credit system to a four-credit system would unnecessarily compromise and complicate Geneseo's existing model of academic excellence.

A four-credit system means fewer classes for Geneseo students. That means fewer general education requirements, fewer classes within each major and fewer opportunities to be an academically diverse student. Geneseo's strength as a liberal arts college is in producing extremely hirable, well-rounded graduates with creative combinations of interests and passions; placing limits on that would be disastrous for students in an already hyper-competitive job market.

These four-credit courses are supposed to be more in-depth and allow for expanded studies of class material, but that is not applicable to everything. The science departments already have a one-credit lab period, and other departments don't have labs because they don't need them. Individual research and projects are usually built into upper level courses and are not included at the introductory level for a reason. The benefits of an ambiguous extra credit are not worth the drastic change.

Many students, especially those in business, education, pre-med and pre-law programs, depend on academic departments to prepare graduates for professional programs in their future. Adjusting the curriculum to accommodate four-credit classes is going to seriously affect the accreditation process for the business and education schools and could potentially complicate the transfer of Geneseo credits to medical and law schools.

If a graduate school expects a student to take Business 1 and Business 2, what are they going to do with a Business 2/3? And without accreditation or a logical transition into a professional school, why would anyone interested in those fields even consider attending Geneseo?

Without those programs, more than half of our student body would be gone. Once one considers the transfer students from other schools and community colleges who couldn't come here in the future because they have transcripts full of three-credit courses, there are only a handful of functioning students left.

I am embarrassingly awful at math, but I am competent enough (thanks to that wonderful symbolic reasoning general education requirement) to realize that combining three into four is awkward. Combining two classes into one saves money, but where do those extra two credits go? Classes right now fit nicely into three-credit blocks; tacking fractions of classes on to the ends of others seems more complicated and clumsy than enriching, and ripping us off of two credits is scummy.

Right now, Geneseo is nationally recognized for its value, the fact that it's an affordable and quality education. If academic superiority is taken away, we're nothing special. I respect the college for trying to explore alternative solutions to this financial crisis, but this particular solution is not the smartest answer.