The College of Business Administration started implementing major policy changes in the summer of 2014, and not only are courses being altered with lower credit-hour values, but students are being affected as well.
In the summer of 2014, the CBA lowered seven business core classes and the Strategic Management course from four to three credit hours. Additionally, four one-credit-hour Professional Development courses were added to the business core.
According to documents provided by CBA Assistant Dean Lynn Becker, these policy changes were made because “the marketplace is dynamic and ever-changing, and the business curriculum must keep pace in order to prepare students for graduation.”
"Generally, the goal for the new curriculum is to better prepare students to land and succeed in jobs in today's business market, and there's been a lot of internal support for this reorganization," said UCF spokeswoman Courtney Gilmartin in a previous interview with the Central Florida Future.
In the beginning of the 2015 spring and fall semesters, UCF seniors ran their final degree audits and visited the Office of Professional Development to prepare for graduation. For some students, however, the looming bliss of tossing a square-hat was stifled by the statement: “You have not met the credit hour requirements needed to graduate.” Students were then left scrambling to fill the missing credit hours and keep their lives on track. Some students took on as many as 18 credit hours for their final semester; others put off graduation entirely.
Yuri Figueroa, a senior economics major, is taking six courses worth 18 credit hours this semester in order to graduate on time.
“How am I eight credit hours short [of graduating] if I followed their exact plan? I don’t think it’s fair that they downgraded the credit hours, and that affected me,” Figueroa said.
The “exact plan” Figueroa is referring to is a catalog year, something most UCF students are familiar with. According to UCF pre-orientation documents, a catalog year is “your contract with the school on what you need to complete. If the requirements for your major change in future catalogs, you are only required to complete the requirements from your catalog.”
A catalog year is major-specific and includes a four-year plan of the courses that need to be taken in order to receive a degree in that major. As explained in the CBA documents, any student who declared a major in the College of Business before 2014 will not be able to graduate by following the course plan in their catalog year because the courses in that catalog no longer sum to a fulfillment of the 120 credit-hour required to graduate —it’s the total credit hours that matter in the catalog year, not the specific courses taken to achieve those hours. The CBA has, however, agreed to waive up to one credit hour for people affected by the change.
"Every effort continues to be made to ensure that all students understand how they can complete the college's requirements and graduate on time," said Roy Reid, the CBA executive director of communications.
Doug Roska, a senior business finance major, was expecting to graduate in the fall of 2015, but he is now expected to graduate in the spring of 2016 due to these changes.
“This summer, I was going to be offered a job pending graduation for about three times what I’m making now. But because I had to tell them that I had an extra semester in school, they chose someone else,” Roska said.
Although many business students like Roska have incurred opportunity cost from the extra time spent at UCF, the changes did not result in any direct increase of tuition charges to UCF students.
"There are multiple factors to consider in determining how these changes may or may not impact an individual student. However, none of these changes result in additional tuition charges to students," CBA documents state. "Tuition is based upon credit hours, not the number of courses that are taken."
The policy changes were communicated through two mass emails sent out during the summer of 2014, CBA documents state,and corresponding numerical changes of the credit hours were displayed within the course descriptions on myUCF.
“According to my Business Law class last semester, both parties must be alerted in order to change a contract. I was not informed of this change,” Roska said. “I check myUCF daily, and I go see my advisers at least once or twice a semester, and I found out about this from a friend at the beginning of last semester.”
Roska isn’t the only one who was caught off guard by the changes, and Business Law isn’t the only UCF business course being used to define the problem.
Jenny Kratzer, a senior management major, has to take two extra classes because of the changes, causing her to stay an extra semester at UCF.
“It’s not just the extra classes, it’s the $600 a month for rent, the money for food and it’s just pushing back peoples' whole futures,” she said. “Juniors and seniors should not be involved in this change; we’ve already been a part of the business so long. It’s just a big mess.”
Landon Stinson is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.