When we got accepted at UT, we celebrated this occasion with our high school friends, made our parents proud, imagined our bright future — a future of our own choice. For those of us who came in undeclared, we got to know that there is another race: A race to get into your desired major. We started completing a bunch of prerequisites — series of calculus, physics etc. We must also hurry up because once we cross the 60-hour mark, many of UT’s colleges won’t accept us. And if by chance, we choose a wrong major, a major that didn’t turn out quite how we imagined, we are stuck in it for the rest of our college careers because that’s life.
Most of the colleges at UT, including geosciences, engineering, architecture, fine arts and communications, have this rule. The main problem is the mentality that a higher graduation rate equates to success. But school is not a factory. We must focus on making students good at what they want to do in future rather than pushing them to graduate in whatever comes their way.
According to Maurie McInnis, Executive Vice President and Provost, the less-than-60-hour rule makes sure that students graduate in four years. This is partly because the longer the current students stay, the fewer new students can come in, and partly because it would be in their best interest to graduate in time so they can move on to the workforce.
“The University, in part supported by tax payer’s dollars ... has limited capacity to educate students ... and we are trying to use them as efficiently for the students and for the state,” McInnis said. “Every year longer of education is more money (students) are spending on education and is a year that they are not in the workforce. For people who realize late in life that they have completely changed their mind, they will usually fix that by going to graduate school.”
David A. Laude, Sr. Vice Provost for strategic Initiatives, said that the students come prepared and the increased competition leaves very limited seats for internal transfer students.
The internal transfer competition is “on a certain level, unfortunate, but it is also the consequence of UT Austin having become an extremely competitive, highly selective institution,” Laude says.
It is understandable that the educational resources are limited. But these resources also come from the educational taxes that the families of Texas resident students have paid. It would be unfair for students to graduate in an undesired major, not because of a lack of effort, but because they are simply too late. Even the out-of-state students add on to these resources by paying three times more than Texas residents in tuition.
Moreover, it is not feasible for many of us to fix our mistakes by going to graduate school — it is insanely expensive and we already have loans piling up. Harder internal transfer criteria such as higher GPA requirement or finishing more prerequisites are better than entirely closing the option to choose a certain major.
There are schools, such as business and nursing, that have some flexibility for students who have completed more than 60 hours. They recommend that students look for other options if they are above the 90-hour mark, which is better. But if that is taken into consideration above other factors in the process, then it is no good either.
The school administration is working hard for UT to be amongst the best institutions, and that is partly done by increasing the four-year graduation rate. But we must decide as a university, that graduating in four years is not more important than graduating in a desired major with the readiness to take on the world.
Batra is computer science and rhetoric and writing junior from New Delhi. She is a columnist.