Starting in Fall 2011, the communication department will drop students from classes for which they have not completed the prerequisites. The policy was designed in response to increasing class sizes and is an attempt to ensure that students take introductory courses as building blocks for future classes.
This effort to emphasize the importance of prerequisite classes has its obvious benefits such as the ability to build on previous knowledge. However, dropping students from courses is an unrealistic avenue for creating a much-needed change to a previously non-existent policy.
Currently, communication majors are required to take five courses while minors take one class before moving to upper division units. If students are unable to get into these fundamental classes such as General Psychology or Introduction to Sociology, they opt for upper division courses instead. This increases class sizes. Under the new system, students will be dropped from these classes if they try to do this.
Our concern is how this will affect students. If the communication department doesn’t allow students to bypass prerequisite classes, it risks the timely graduation of a large population of students. However, if it doesn’t enforce the new policy, students take classes out of order.
While taking classes in succession isn’t as necessary for a major such as communication, the department’s desire to impose this policy is admirable and a positive step toward enabling students to fully succeed in courses by building on past classes.
However, just dropping students from classes and postponing graduation isn’t the right way to go about this problem. If classes are too large, the communication department should allow increased class sizes for a certain period of time. This will accommodate underclassmen that need to take their introductory courses and upperclassmen in their advanced courses.
After the window of time has closed, so will this policy. As a result, there will be fewer upperclassmen in introductory courses because they would have already taken them allowing first-years and sophomores to enroll in the prerequisites.
The communication department could also ease the process of registering for prerequisites by creating more choices. Other majors include more options for preparatory classes, making this less of a problem for students in other departments.
The department has the prerogative to require that students take introductory courses. And students will probably be better for it anyway. However, more has to be done than just dropping students who haven’t taken prerequisite courses. The department has to implement other systems to make sure students get the classes they need when they need them and that they graduate on time.