Changes to graduation honors proposed

Changes to graduation honors proposed

by Tara MaurerStaff Writer

Faculty will vote next month to determine whether the honors requirements will change for graduating students at Simpson College.

Under the current policy, students must earn a 3.6 grade point average and have a least 64 graded credits from Simpson. Graded credits are credits that receive letter grades. Credits earned that receive a pass or no-pass grade, such as internships and student teaching, do not count towards the requirement.

If the new policy is put into place, students will need to earn a 3.6 GPA or higher and have 32 graded credits from Simpson.

The new policy proposal was created by the Education Policy and Curriculum Committee (EPCC) after some urging by John Bolen, Registrar and associate academic dean.

“The change has to do with the fact that I’ve always felt that 64 semester hours of graded credits always meant that transfer students transferring in from a two-year degree, or from a four-year college, would often not earn enough graded credits to be considered for honors at graduation,” Bolen said. “Somehow it just didn’t seem right.

Not only did the policy affect transfer students, but also many education students. Some students who are education majors can’t graduate with honors because their last 17 credits are pass or no-pass. If they transfer in with 64 credits, they won’t be able to graduate with honors. Evening, weekend and graduate students who are transfers also commonly don’t get to graduate with honors because they transfer in too many credits.

“It has never made much sense to me,” Bolen said. “The 64 credit rule has been around for over 35 years and frankly when you figure that we add 110 to 120 new transfers a year full-time, and if those transfers come in with more than 64 credits, you know that those students won’t graduate with honors no matter if they get a 4.0.”

Many transfer students in the education department are displeased with the current policy.

“Although I transferred in with few enough credits to still be able to graduate with honors, had I waited a semester to transfer I wouldn’t have been able to,” senior elementary education major Stephanie Jacobson said. “Anyone transferring into Simpson puts in just as much work as people who start here their freshman year, maybe even more to make up for classes that don’t transfer in.”

Seniors Jamie Eddy and Amy Gummert are both education majors. They agreed that the changes would improve the policy.

“I think it is a good idea to change the requirements for graduating with honors if you are transferring in with a two-year degree or that many credits because it is impossible to get enough credits here at Simpson to graduate with honors,” Eddy said.

Gummert added that she thought the honors should be based more on the quality of work than on the amount.

“Graduating with honors needs to be based on your grade point average, not how many classes you took,” Gummert said.

For Bolen, the question has always been, “Is it right to deny these student the right to receive the recognition they deserve?”

As a result, Bolen conducted a study of 14 colleges and universities in Iowa. Of these, he found that half had the 64 credit rule and the other half required no specific credit load.

To Bolen, as well as EPPC, the new policy is a compromise. By changing the requirement to 32 credits, they are trying to give everyone an equal chance to graduate with honors.

If approved, the policy will be immediately applied for students graduating in December. One problem, however, seems to in everyone’s minds.

“One could argue that students who began at Simpson should be recognized at graduation for honors and that a transfer student who only complete 32 graded at Simpson maybe shouldn’t because they haven’t had to take as many classes as those who started here,” Bolen said. “My response to this is that excellence is excellence. It’s hard work to get a 3.6 GPA or higher even for one semester.

“The point is that by saying 32 graded credits or more we are making the opportunity to be recognized for academic excellence more available to more students.”

According to Bolen, graduating with honors is “like icing on a cake.”

“It’s not that everyone works hard just so they can graduate with honors,” Bolen said. “It is just an additional plus that students get to experience.”