January 15, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 58  

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Modular degrees, big deal — BA is still BS

Thrust n' Perry
Dan Perry

News Editor

It’s no secret the face of both post-secondary education and the job market have been changing for some time; before long, we’ll likely need a BA in grease-ology to flip burgers for the rest of our lives.

Thank you, Western: just when we thought the simple BA (from any school, to be fair) couldn’t become any less valuable, you presented us with “New Academic Choices”.

These new degree requirements, in the tradition of, oh, I don’t know, every idea administration ever had, were ushered in with the usual fanfare from talking heads and that wonderful (ahem) newspaper known as Western News, but let’s take a second to think this over, kids.

My own situation resembles that of many students at: I’m a combined honours student, meaning that beyond first year, I need to take six courses in each of my disciplines — in total, five of 12 courses are compulsory for me under the old system. If I were to switch streams (as a third-year, of course, that’s allegedly impossible), I’d get exactly the same opportunities out of my new and supposedly improved choices by meeting the same requirements.

Minors can be fun to pick up; and so ever the masochist, I looked into taking an extra credit or two to free up enough schedule room to add another module to my newly-dubbed double-major. Sadly, like most of the students in my shoes, I just couldn’t afford that many summer classes (or nervous breakdowns from course overloading) to do it.

While I could bitch about being too old to take advantage of the good part of the new modular degree system — minors (heh heh) — I also understand that sometimes upper-year students get necessarily lost in the shuffle when change is implemented.

The administration will tell you this came about after consultation with student groups, but was this really in the interests of education? Sure, students want choice; but we already have it. All that’s new this September is the potential recognition for spending four years gravitating to the same department for our cake courses — er, electives.

This decision is all too marketable; to lure new students with a program us vets know is mostly the same, and throw a bone (too little, too late) to students who were once serious about broadening their degree a little.

That’s OK, though — “New Academic Choices” is a catchy name, so two things are assured. Firstly, and most importantly, Western’s brand image will prosper; and secondly (for admin), students will remain upstream with Western’s newly redesigned broken paddle — the same old BA.

But hey: now you can get fries with that.



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