Ensuring graduation within four years

Academic advisors for the College of Liberal Arts Beau Baca and Dahlia Seroussi work in the CLA office. In order to graduate in four years, incoming freshman must take and pass 15 credits. 

Ercoli Crugnale News Contributor

College of Liberal Arts creates structured program for incoming freshmen to follow

Many students on campus have felt a slow, creeping financial anxiety that accompanies loans and the post-grad debt that’s almost sure to follow, often accentuated by a fifth or even a sixth year of college. Some departments at Oregon State University are doing their part to help ease this burden.

This fall, the College of Liberal Arts will guarantee that all incoming freshmen in a CLA major will graduate in four years, provided they follow a structured program that involves taking and passing 15 credits a term.

OSU senior and psychology major Jenna Saperia knows the importance of graduating in four years as much as anyone.

“As someone who needed to graduate in that time frame to be able to afford college, it opens up a lot of options that students would be afraid or unable to take advantage of if they were worried about not graduating in four years,” Saperia said.

According to the CLA’s website, the new guarantee has four steps. First, declare your major in the CLA by the end of the first term of freshman year. Next, meet at least twice yearly with a CLA adviser and follow their recommendations. Then, complete and pass 45 or more credit hours per academic year as part of meeting the degree and college requirements in your chosen CLA major. Finally, meet your financial obligations to OSU so you are able to register for classes on time.

Louie Bottaro, the director of student services for the CLA, said these guidelines are mostly a matter of common sense, but laying them out helps regardless.

“That’s basic math. If you want to reach 180 credits, you have to pass 15 a term,” Bottaro said.

Bottaro said that the reason students may not graduate on time in the CLA is because, though they enter OSU with a passion for the liberal arts, they feel it would be more beneficial to pursue a more ‘practical’ major. However, when these students realize that their time would be better spent studying in their preferred major, they have sunk too many credits into other areas of study.

He said that, in light of these issues, Larry Rodgers, dean of the CLA, has spearheaded this guarantee. According to Rodgers, a big issue at underfunded universities is that they simply don’t have enough money to offer multiple sections of a required class in a sequence. If there is an unavoidable scheduling conflict, students are simply out of luck, and must wait until the next year to take the course.

“We can assure that students can progress towards a degree, and not be stymied on our side by a failure to have the kind of courses they need in order to graduate,” Rodgers said.

A large part of the appeal of the CLA for many students is the flexibility of the course requirements, and Rodgers said that this tends to attract people who want a say in what they learn. He added that, in part, this also contributes to the confidence the college has in its guarantee. Since many classes, at many times, fill a single degree requirement, it is easier for students to build a schedule that works for them.

“It’s a mechanical process that says that we’re trying to help students get through and we can guarantee it,” Rodgers said. “The other side of it is, I think it’s a strong message to prospective students and to current students, whether you’re in CLA or not, that says the university is hearing you. College is expensive, college is daunting to get through, and we’re trying to make this one of many steps to helping students meet the challenges of the current financial and educational environment.”

Bottaro recognized that this kind of schedule is far from easy, especially for those that have to support themselves.

“The biggest challenge right now is that our students are working 25, 30 hours a week,” Bottaro said. “And that’s not sustainable with a 15 credit load.”

Though OSU junior Annie Lesney said that this guarantee was not in place when she was a freshman, she said that it is because of a similar system she has followed that she is on track to graduate in four years.

“This commitment is fantastic. Most colleges do not guarantee this, and I believe it is fantastic that OSU CLA does,” Lesney said.

“This is an opportunity provided by the College of Liberal Arts that blends student responsibility and university obligation in an outcome that’s a win-win for everybody,” Rodgers said. “You meet your responsibility, we’ll meet ours.”

More information about the graduation requirements can be found on the CLA webpage.