Addressing the 4-credit system, column by Roman Jones

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Competition for jobs is only becoming more prevalent. Our education system owes it to students to give us every advantage available to better prepare us for the job market. When students are prepared, they can go into the world and obtain jobs easier than if they were not equipped with the necessary tools. The initiative backing many 4-credit systems that have been successfully implemented in certain colleges and universities is this: Students need better coursework and more experience with the fields they want to pursue careers in. Simply put, a 4-credit system is a structure consisting of classes with more in-depth coursework and usually an additional component such as a lab or activity outside the traditional class environment.

Recently, Rocky Mountain College has taken steps to rework their courses in the Health and Human Performance department to better reflect the 4-credit system. According to Nich Pertuit, instructor of Health and Human Performance, the goal with the 4-credit system at RMC is to, “Increase hands-on opportunities and experiential
learning.”

The 4-credit system is far from a new concept. People have been pondering its merit in educational institutions for the past twenty years. Elon University is one of a multitude of educational institutions that considered the 4-credit system and ultimately decided to implement it in the fall of 1994.

The fact that RMC has shown interest in changing systems shows that this issue is just as relevant today as it was two decades ago. In Elon University’s case, implementing the new system did not occur seamlessly. Pam Richter, a former student of Elon, stated that, “some educational departments were forced to rework their entire curriculum, whereas others weren’t as drastically impacted by the change. With this change, students were expected to take one less course per semester, meaning that students had to take three or four classes a semester, compared to the five or six under the old system.” Fewer courses for students also impacted the faculty by allowing them to have fewer courses to teach and this granted them the “ability to go more in depth in certain subjects.”

Although changes resulting from the 4 credit system will not be felt until this upcoming year at RMC, they are projected to yield similar results to Elon’s; students majoring in Health and Human Performance can expect to take one less course. Unlike Elon, RMC is only rearranging one department and not the entire system.

While many departments in institutions of higher education stand to benefit from a transition to 4 credit classes, it is important to note that this system is not universally applicable. Pertuit stated that he believes in the 4-credit system only for certain departments. “I don’t know if it’s good for everybody to switch,” he said. Specific areas in Rocky Mountain College that would not gain anything from a shift to the 4-credit system include the Aviation, Business, and Math departments. Pertuit continued by stating, “We [Health and Human Performance] want to go more in-depth rather than in-breadth. For us it made sense to go to 4 credits, because we were missing essential components to prepare students for the job market in their field.”

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