College Academic Council discusses potential change to four-for-four system

This Wednesday, the College Academic Council (CAC) held a town hall meeting to discuss the structure of its current academic system, which currently uses the norm of five classes worth three credits each.

This conversation arose from student complaints about the lack of focus on depth within the College as well as the University as a whole. During the town hall meeting, CAC members, as well as those in the audience, discussed how students felt about the current system and whether they wanted to see any changes and what those changes would look like. A potential option would be for the college to switch to a 4-for-4 system in which students take four classes each worth four credits.

CAC representative Kennedy Maker (COL ’18), who headed the event, told Vox in an interview that the idea for a change in the academic system came to him as he was doing research for his four-year plan. “I was really taken aback by the amount of requirements that I had as a College student studying liberal arts curricula, the most flexible program Georgetown has to offer.”

After talking with friends, some who had even more stringent requirements, they agreed that course and credit scheduling is very tight for a lot of students.

If the college switched to 4-for-4 system, Maker explained some advantages. “They would have a focus on depth over breadth, the potential alleviation of student academic stress, and an emphasis on remaining competitive with peer schools who currently employ a 4-for-4 format.”

However, there are also potential drawbacks to this plan. It could limit the ability for students to earn more than one major, lower the amount of free electives, and reduce exposure to a variety of disciplines.

Another idea that came out of the town hall meeting was to reduce the course requirement from 38 courses necessary to earn a degree to 36, a minor change that could be beneficial to students.

Maker does not believe that a complete switch to a 4-for-4 system is what the College needs, but he does recognize the need for improvements. “I think some change would have a positive impact on the academic culture here at Georgetown,” he told Vox in the interview.

During the town hall meeting, CAC representatives presented the facts along with pros and cons of potential changes. They then turned it over to the panelists as well as Dean Chester Gillis, Vice Provost Randy Bass, Associate Dean Anne Sullivan, and Professor Andrew Bennett. At the end of the meeting, CAC took a straw poll, and an overwhelming majority of students in attendance stated that some change should occur.

When asked what the next steps are after this town hall meeting, Maker explained that this initial conversation will be the catalyst to figure out what changes need to be made and how the CAC can best implement them on behalf of the students.

Photo: Georgetown University College Academic Council via Facebook

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