BALTIMORE – Two classes will stop Isiah Brown from graduating this spring.
“I thought I would be completely finished to march for graduation in May,” said Brown, a Coppin State University business major who started college in the fall of 1992. “But I’ve been informed by my department this semester that I’m missing two required classes.
“I probably won’t be able to take the classes until the summer. So not only has it taken me more than four years to finish, now it’s prolonged because of this oversight.”
Brown is among a growing number of Maryland undergraduates who take five or more years to earn a degree.
Only one in every five new full-time degree-seeking freshmen graduates in four years, University of Maryland System officials say. And the number of students taking six years to graduate has increased 10 percent in the past decade.
This has the University of Maryland System Board of Regents exploring ways to change the trend.
At its meeting Dec. 13, the board will take up six recommendations by its education policy committee, all aimed at cutting the time it takes a student to graduate. If the board adopts the plan, the 13 member institutions will:
* not require more than 120 credits for an undergraduate program except to fulfill requirements for accreditation, licensure or a specific educational specialty.
* continue to offer a full-time undergraduate tuition that allows students to enroll for as many credits as they wish.
* review and appropriately change their academic advising practices, with a focus on long-term course planning.
* schedule high-demand courses regularly, to ensure that students who plan their academic programs responsibly are not delayed in getting their degrees.
* establish and promote clear guidelines for credit earned via tests taken prior to enrollment, such as Advanced Placement or the College Level Examination Program.
* collaborate with secondary schools to increase the number of high school students who concurrently enroll in college courses for credit.
“What this does is sensitizes the institutions to their students’ needs and demands,” said George L. Marx, vice chancellor for academic affairs. “We want institutions to at least create feasible ways for their students to finish in four years.”
Kevin M. Lawrence, the regent student representative who attends the University of Maryland at College Park, said students were “unanimously behind the recommendations we voted on.”
He added, “This also reinforces the need for the board to remain vigilant in our efforts to keep higher education affordable and accessible to everyone.” In related action, the Maryland Higher Education Commission will release its “Time-to-Degree” study at its monthly meeting today at Charles County Community College. The study, which was requested last session by the General Assembly, will be submitted to lawmakers next month. -30-