Staff Editorial: Reconsidering Lawrence’s credit system

One typical six credit course at Lawrence is expected to entail 3.3 semester hours of lecture time a week. However, some six unit classes have a significantly higher number of semester hours. These classes that require more hours spent in class or time dedicated to a specific skill should be reflected in either additional credit or by a denotion on official transcripts. 

Many Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) majors frequently feel as if their time spent in labs and working on labs is unnoticed and may become disheartened by the extra time spent with no tangible evidence of it. While students with non-lab, Monday-Wednesday- Friday classes are able to use part of their Tuesdays and Thursdays to do homework, STEM majors with labs are left to do their extra homework on the weekends instead of socializing with friends or taking some much needed leisure time, as labs run a minimum of three hours and some students have multiple labs per term. 

This credit disparity is also present in other majors. Students in ensembles put in a disproportionate amount of work for often just a single credit- one ensemble will rehearse for two hours a week, while another will rehearse for upwards of four, but both are awarded 1 credit on a transcript.  In the education department, many classes will require practicum hours spent observing in classrooms, which is necessary for accreditation, but isn’t necessarily reflected in the credit hours. Studio Art majors often have class for three and a half hours on both Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is almost double the amount of hours spent in a typical Tuesday and Thursday class. Amendments to the Lawrence credit system would be beneficial for students across all disciplines.

Unfortunately, increasing the amount of flat credits for classes that mandate more time spent in class may prove problematic. Students, especially dual degree students, already run the risk of overloading their class schedule every term in order to fit their required classes into four or five years. One solution to this problem may be to adjust the flat credits so that they reflect the amount of work spent in class each week and to raise the number of credits it takes to reach overload status. 

However, increasing the amount of flat credits of lab courses would further limit the number of classes STEM majors would be able to take. In STEM majors, this could potentially be amended by having a separate type of credit dedicated to labs that would not cause students to overload.

Another solution could be to add a star denoting lab classes on official transcripts, as lab experience is highly desirable in applicants to jobs and graduate schools, and Lawrence science students should be recognized for the extra work demanded by lab classes. Additionally, there are many classes that meet the standards to be considered as a competency and diversity requirement, but do not receive the status of one on transcripts. For example, one could argue that the majority of English classes are writing intensive, but they rarely are listed as writing intensive. Even if the designation is implied, it may be helpful to future employers to see the amount of experience students have gained in a particular skill.

We are not asking to necessarily decrease the amount of work or hours that we put into our classes and our majors. We chose the majors we chose, and love what we do. We only ask that this extra work is acknowledged by the university so that it can be recognized by those looking at our transcripts in the future.