YSU to turn some programs into three-year degrees

Colleges across campus will soon be looking to see which of their tracks can be transformed into three-year programs.

Charles Singler, interim associate provost, said the option to complete the curriculum within three years has always been available to students. However, the Ohio Legislature is now mandating that three-year degree programs be offered.

According to the Ohio Board of Regents, the goal is to transition 10 percent of Ohio university programs into three-year degree programs by 2012, with a goal of transitioning 60 percent by 2014.

The idea is that this will help students save money, allow more time for students to pursue more than one major and bring more businesses into Ohio.

“Businesses are looking to go places where there are a lot of educational opportunities,” Singler said. “They simply want to employ those who can come across a problem and solve it.”

Singler said these programs could be tough for some students to complete.

“It’s not a program available to a lot of students,” Singler said. “But to those who are focused and don’t change their minds, it can be done.”

He said the university is looking into academic advising to help these students succeed.

William Buckler, coordinator of academic advising, said advising is being looked at as part of the 2020 strategic plan.

“We are looking at eliminating difficulty on advising,” he said.  

Buckler added that two concerns regarding advising are that not enough professional advisers are on campus and that faculty advisers are not aware of the updated curriculum.

Buckler said the development of a better advisement website is in the works.

He is also looking into updating the decade-old academic advising manual and bringing in retired faculty as part-time advisers to lessen the burden on faculty.  

“A lot of students do not have the luxury of not having to work while they’re in college,” Buckler said.

He said students who take on a three-year degree are going to face a lot of pressure in order to pass their classes.

Shearle Furnish, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, said he is unsure about how successful the three-year degree programs are going to be.

“The call for a three-year degree program is swimming upstream against the tide,” Furnish said. “Students are leaning towards five or six years.”

He said college is meant to be a developing time in one’s life and that there is no sense in rushing through it.

Furnish said he hasn’t looked too far into what programs can be transformed, but he isn’t sure how adapting what is already in place will turn out.

Bryan DePoy, dean of the College of Fine and Performing Arts, said the college is going to rely heavily on students bringing college credits with them from high school.

“In many cases, the length of time is helpful,” DePoy said.

He said some of the fine and performing arts disciplines are hard to rush through because they require a great deal of time and practice.

Singler said students would have to keep their focus on academics and have minimal distractions.

“They’re going to have to make sacrifices,” Singler said.

Singler said it could be challenging to students because the program workloads would not change.

“Students will have to take 16 credit hours during fall, spring and summer semesters,” Singler said.

He said he is concerned that students who want to take on a three-year degree program might fall into the trap of failing a class that is offered once a year or get caught up in distractions.

“Anything you do outside of academics is going to take away time that could be spent studying,” Singler said.

He added that some three-year programs would be harder to complete than others.

Singler added that YSU plans to help students by offering more general education classes during the summer semesters. This could help students focus on major classes during the fall and spring semesters.

Singler also said that implementing three-year degrees could be made possible through working with local school districts and allowing high school students to participate in dual enrollment. He said YSU could also work with programs already in place like the Senate Bill 140 program, the Youngstown Early College program, Advanced Placement courses and credit transfers from technical schools.

“It’s just important that your degree gets completed,” Singler said. “Once you have your degree, that cannot be taken away from you.”

He added that this program does not take importance away from any baccalaureate programs.