Editorial: All students shouldn’t be punished for extra credits

Some students are getting punished for taking more than 120 credits in classes. At least that’s one way of seeing it.

According to the 2012 Florida Statutes 1009.286, “state universities shall require a student to pay an excess hour surcharge for each credit hour in excess of the number of credit hours required to complete the baccalaureate degree program in which the student is enrolled.”

That sounds like, “Let’s try to get some more money from college students’ pockets.”

The Florida Legislature implemented this law because they want students to graduate as fast and as efficiently as possible, but how can they possibly do this if universities such as FIU keep adding and/or requiring more classes for their curriculum?

It’s not an insignificant amount that will be added to the extra credits taken. In the 2012-2013 academic year the surcharge will go up to 100 percent of the tuition, which will leave the student paying double.

We do understand that there are some overachieving students who want to expand their studies and obtain up to three different majors, and others who have failed the same classes repeatedly. The Florida Statutes says that those credit hours taken, whether they failed the class or whether it’s going towards a second major, “shall be included when calculating the number of hours taken by a student.”

When it comes to these cases, the statutes aren’t completely unreasonable. Either you pass your classes or you pay extra for it.

However, transfer students should be taken case by case and the University should evaluate whether they really deserve the surcharge.

According to 2010-2012 Annual Accountability Report, between 2008 and 2012 only 22 percent of transfer students at FIU have graduated. The other 63 percent are still enrolled. Some students from this 63 percent are still enrolled because they took classes at the previous institution they attended and those were not counted when they enrolled at FIU, but those credits will be included in the calculations.

Transfers aren’t the only students staying behind and not graduating. Sixty three percent of first time college students, whose first and only school has been FIU, graduated with excess credits hours in the 2011-2012 period, according to the Annual Accountability report.

If these students started at FIU, then what caused them to go over the 120 credits needed to obtain their bachelor?

First thing that comes to mind are the prerequisites required by FIU. These courses are mandatory in order to get full acceptance into the different colleges.

The First Year Experience class, for instance, “is designed to facilitate the transition to a university environment,” according to the 2012-2013 Undergraduate Catalog. The class is only worth one credit, but how much valuable information is it providing the students with? Wouldn’t they learn the university environment along the way? Instead of wasting a credit with this class, students can enroll into other classes that would actually be counted towards their majors, or maybe help them be one step ahead with their core classes.

The Global Learning classes are also a hold up. The classes are said to educate undergraduates about the relationship of local and global issues and also provide them with skills about local, global, international, and intercultural problem solving.

Students are required to take two GL courses, which leads to asking: are these classes really needed? Why can’t students just focus on the core classes and those from their majors?

These pointless classes might be one of the reasons why transfer and FTIC students are going over the 120 credit hours; which is why these surcharges need to have some exceptions.