Requirements are out; academic flexibility is in.
The School of Engineering and Applied Science’s class of 2018 will no longer have a preprofessional requirement. Last week, the SEAS Committee on Instruction voted unanimously to remove the requirement from the engineering undergraduate core.
Previously, this requirement stipulated a semester-long course during fall or spring of a student’s first year. According to the requirement description on the Student Affairs website, it was meant to “allow students to experience professional-level study and offer a chance to explore a particular major or field of study.”
Evidence for its necessity was, however, strongly lacking. Part of the rationale to remove the requirement was because the Art of Engineering acts as a survey course by covering aspects of all the engineering majors. This type of overview can be an important way to help students decide their majors. The major-specific survey courses that were part of the requirement, however, do not help student accomplish this decision. These courses are essentially redundant introduction courses. Each course is taken only by students who think they’re already going into that major. At best, the preprofessional course could help students decide that they’re in the wrong field before they take other courses for their major. At worst, it was a timesuck and simply unnecessary as a requirement.
We wholeheartedly agree with the elimination of this requirement. It is a fair decision that grants greater flexibility without removing the opportunity to take these preprofessional survey courses.
However, we want to acknowledge that this is only the removal of one class from a list of requirements that remains enormous. The removal of this preprofessional requirement will not be a panacea for students with too many classes and too little time. But it is a step in the right direction toward slimming a heavy course load and aligning our classes with our purpose. We are a community committed to acquiring knowledge, not jobs.
Finally, we feel it is necessary to draw attention to administrators’ part here. It was primarily their effort, along with the department chairs who sit on the COI, that made this change happen. We applaud this proactive measure and look forward to seeing greater administration and faculty involvement in making positive changes to both academics and student life.
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