EDITORIAL: Extended studies solves, creates problems

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In February, the system that previously required three Winter Term “credits” was replaced with a system that requires two extended studies credits.

This change, at first glance, seems to fix some of the complaints surrounding the old system. Previous Winter Term classes, some of which were as rigorous or more so than regular courses, were pass-fail with no academic credit.

Funding Winter Term was also a problem. Students could not get federal financial aid, apply regular DePauw tuition scholarships or take out federal student loans to do an off-campus Winter Term. DePauw had scholarships to help students who could not afford an off-campus Winter Term, but even at the highest financial aid priority rating, students were expected to pay 70 percent of the trip, with the cheapest one costing the student just under $1,000 with the available aid.

This editorial board applauds the university for attempting to fix all of the problems with the old system in one foul swoop. But we don’t believe the new system completely fixes the problems. Instead, it leaves certain aspects untouched and creates a new problem—it is now easier to have a credit overload that leads to an extra tuition charge.

Extended studies gives credit for classes taken during Winter Term or May Term. This credit counts towards the 31 credits required for graduation and fulfills the categorical requirement of “Extended Studies.” However, Extended Studies can still be pass-fail, meaning that the argued inconsistency in the rigor of Winter Term classes and the idea of using an assigned grade as a means to deter binge drinking during the month of January becomes a moot point.

Under the new system, there are added grants and additional financial aid that students can receive for extended studies opportunities. However, students weren’t charged tuition for on-campus Winter Terms under the old system, regardless of how many credits they took during the semester. Now, if students take over four credits in the fall semester for Winter Term or the spring semester for May Term, students will be charged extra tuition. The cost of going over the 4.5 credit limit, even by .25, is $1,314.

Students wishing to graduate a semester early or make-up credits from previously dropped or withdrawn classes can’t make up some of the credits the same semester that they choose to go on a Winter Term or May Term. Such a system forces student to choose between partial credit electives such as Ethics Bowl, Hapkido, Self Defense and Ballroom Dance and fulfilling their extended studies requirements. This editorial board thinks that forcing students choose between partial-credit electives and partial-credit extended studies or no-credit extended studies limits students’ experience at DePauw in a new way.

We applaud the university’s desire to make Extended Studies classes more academic, but we wish they’d found a way that doesn’t limit students’ opportunities during the semester.