University Changes Degree Requirements

Vanessa Vincent

The new General Education Program’s modifications made in the spring semester of 2013 are essential to a student’s career path, according to the American Council.

The curriculum has been modified to better fit the expectations employers have of graduating students. It cuts back on unnecessary courses and allows students to begin studying in their intended field earlier than before.

“Even though the amount of credits necessary to graduate is the same as before, 120, I’m graduating a semester earlier than I would have if I had stayed with the old GDR requirements,” said Leah Aeby, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.

For incoming freshman the change is a mandatory. For transfers and students with an approved associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree, the requirements are already met.

Communication in the Major and the Capstone Experience are two requirements that will need to be fulfilled by transfer students. These courses will differ by department.

This program has been five years in the making according to Nancy LoPatin-Lummis, the Director of Education for UWSP. During that time, the American Council met with employers, and asked what they wanted from their incoming employees.

After processing the research results, they selected the courses they felt would most prepare students for their intended field, and the result was the new GEP.

“Employers want the experienced workers that use critical thinking, leadership, and communication and writing skills,” LoPatin-Lummis said.

First year students start with the foundation courses. This level contains written communication or oral communication class and a wellness class. This level is meant to emphasize intellectual learning.

The second level is Investigation, which builds on the skills and knowledge from the first level. This includes humanities, historical perspectives, arts, social sciences and natural sciences. This gives students broad knowledge about the world they live in.

Last is Integration. At this point students are to make connections from what they have already learned, to subjects in their field. It is also meant to help them build problem solving skills and how to use multiple perspectives when viewing issues.

LoPatin-Lummis mentioned that some students are still confused by how the GEP works.

“The bottom line is to talk with your advisor,” LoPatin-Lummis said. Lucy Woerfel, a former student who worked in the student-advising center, believes the switch has a positive impact.

“The GEP now includes things like Experiential Learning where students can get internships, jobs, or work for student organizations to satisfy the requirement,” Woerfel said. “Additionally, the GEP takes written and oral communication within your major to the next level.”

“I have friends younger than me that decided to actually make the switch from the GDR’s to the GEP because it ultimately lowered the amount of credits they were required to take. With that being said, students still need 120 credits to graduate, so its not like people are getting away with taking less classes overall,” Woerfel said.“It has a ways to go yet, as classes are still being added and developed to increase the number of course options for students, but I believe we are headed in the right direction.” 

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