Double majors face credit dilemma

Double majors face credit dilemma

by Joshua KullaStaff Writer

Those taking on the task of achieving a double major have discovered such a surplus to be tricky when graduation is at issue.

At Simpson, where emphasis is placed on developing a broader appreciation for learning rather than that instilled by focusing exclusively on the topics within a given major’s course of study. When an individual seeks more than one major, both (or more) being within a particular discipline (such as the Humanities), course credits accumulate in a single area, causing that area of study to have more weight than all others.

Within Simpson’s credit system, this creates a technicality that has for double-majors of a specific discipline having to petition the college for graduation.

“I have been here 18 years, and in that time I have been told that such a rule, ‘The student must have at least 44 credits outside the division of their major,’ comes from a time before there were any specifically stated Cornerstones or general education requirements,” Registrar John Bolen said. “I am not terribly clear on why we still need this rule except that it is another way of making certain that every student has a broader education than what they pick up in the division of their major.”

Some divisions, such as the Humanities, encompass a broad range of disciplines, a range as broad as the span of educational perspectives the rule seems intended to emphasize.

“There’s absolutely no reason why someone shouldn’t be able to double-major in Humanities and have to worry about taking too many credits in the Humanities,” John Pauley, director of cornerstone studies and professor of philosophy and religion, said. “I personally think that this rule should just be gone. It’s a relic from before the Cornerstones were in place. I’d love to see it bite the dust.”

The effects of the dated rule have potential to be felt not only in the Humanities, but also in other intense divisions of study.

“I’m currently working out details about whether or not I will have to petition. If I do, almost all of the athletic training students will too,” senior Jamie Keller said.

Considering that the rule is from a time before Cornerstone and Senior Colloquium courses, the question of its relevance in current academic circumstances is not simply subject for opinion, but is also substance for consideration by those whose voice could determine the end or the longevity of the rule.

“What does it mean to require a student take at least 44 credits outside their major’s division?” Bolen said. “It means Simpson College wants to graduate students with a well-rounded education. And what does that mean? It means that as a graduate of Simpson College, you have at least a certain level of familiarity and understanding with subjects in each of the five divisions. This is often why we mean by a Liberal Arts degree. Can this be accomplished without this rule? That, perhaps, is the better question.”