University of Hawaii

UH eases degree requirements

The increased flexibility in required
courses should allow students
to graduate in 4 years

By Treena Shapiro

The University of Hawaii-Manoa has introduced a revamped core curriculum that will make it easier for students to earn four-year degrees in -- four years.

Currently, it takes entering freshmen an average of 5.1 years to earn a bachelor's degree, while a typical transfer student will take 4.7 years to finish up.

Students say that part of the problem is getting into the courses they're required to take for graduation, such as introductory math, English and science.

"If you register late or you're an underclassman, it fills up fast," said English major Jennifer Beruan, 23.

Karl Kim, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, said that the faculty got together in 1999 to devise a strategy to meet students' concerns, as well as modernize a general education core curriculum that had been in place since 1984.

For example, instead of a system where every freshman has to jockey for a seat in a limited number of World Civilizations courses, that requirement can also be filled with an anthropology, geography or art class.

"That greatly opens up the opportunity for meeting those requirements," Kim said.

Another advantage is the "double-dipping option," which means one course can be used to fulfill more than one requirement, Kim said.

Academic adviser Carolyn Brooks-Harris said, "The group in particular that will benefit are transfer students."

While UH accepts transfer credits, they are often treated as electives and are not counted as core requirements. However, in the new system, "there's a lot more flexibility," Brooks-Harris said.

"It will ease the process of transferring for those students."

But as she points out, the core requirements aren't the only obstacles to graduating in four years. Some students just don't plan early on. Others change majors midway.

That's why Beruan said it will take her five years to graduate.

Her friend Jennifer Lai, also 23, faces the same problem, compounded by losing credits when she transferred to UH-Manoa's Kinesiology and Leisure Science program from Kapiolani Community College's occupational therapy program.

"I lost a whole year-and-a-half worth of study," she said.

Tamsyn Pang, 23, a business major, said she'll spend five years in school because she took a break and didn't attend school full-time every semester. As for the core, "I didn't have any problems," she said.

While other students complained about having to take the required courses, particularly two years of a foreign language, Pang said, "I kind of like being forced to take a lot of different classes."

For more information about the general education requirements, visit gened/.

University of Hawaii

E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin