Campus / News / April 27, 2011

Ed plans: a useful requirement?

Many students and faculty have doubts about the effectiveness of educational plans.

According to Dean of the College Larry Breitborde the educational plan (or ed plan) is “proposed as a mechanism to ensure that a critical conversation that needs to happen at a critical point in time occurs.”

This critical conversation, he said, must occur at the end of sophomore year, taking stock of the first two years and figuring out a preliminary plan.

Breitborde said that ed plans were created at the suggestion of a student, who found the self-designed major application helpful and thought it would be helpful for all students to do similar thinking about their education.

Ed plans are “a way to try to ensure that instead of going through the college term by term, students take a step back and think on a larger scale,” he said.

According to freshman Jillian Somera, who is currently working on her ed plan, “It’s a way to map out your four years and provide direction for what you’re doing.”

Breitborde sees the number of requests for requirement substitutions that arise from “a lack of careful planning and a lack of advising.” Ed plans are an attempt to “try to eliminate [these] through more intentional planning.”

There are three ways to do an ed plan: as an application for off-campus study, as a proposal for a self-designed major or as an ed plan itself. According to Breitborde, “nobody has trouble” doing the off-campus or self-designed major application.

Breitborde said the administration is “moving toward assessing graduation requirements,” one of which is the ed plan.

One of the major problems with the ed plan is students not completing it on time.

According to Breitborde, the ed plan is a unique requirement. “There’s a timeline where if you don’t meet the timeline it loses meaning … it’s ridiculous to do a plan at the end of four years.” But the administration is reluctant to create a penalty for not doing it.

“That will reduce it to a checklist,” Breitborde said.

Senior Becca Chelton agreed. “I don’t think there should be severe repercussions for not doing it.”

Part of the problem, according to Breitborde, is Knox’s. “We’re not real good with rules at Knox; we have them but everything’s negotiable … I think that’s a good thing.”

Breitborde added that when he talks to prospective students about ed plans, “you get a real positive response, [they like that] there’s going to be this taking stock.”

According to Breitborde, faculty members have differing opinions on the topic; some faculty “speak of them in positive terms,” while others “say that conversation happens, why do we have to write it down? But there’s evidence from students that says it doesn’t.”

Students also have varying opinions about ed plans.

Somera said it is “overwhelming at first but it forces you to sit down and think about it.”

Freshman Max Glassner said ed plans “might get you stuck … a lot of people end up switching majors, so what’s the point in declaring them?”

“It’s definitely a nice way of gathering your thoughts, deciding for certain what majors or minors to pick and recognizing problems that might come up in terms of picking courses,” said freshman Ivan Keta, who is also working on his ed plan.

Senior Tim Lovett did not find the ed plan helpful. He called it a “forgettable and largely ineffectual vestigial product of an unnecessary and flawed bureaucracy, continuously clung to by the administration.”

“I guess I did it; I don’t remember doing it,” Lovett said.

Chelton did not find the ed plan requirement helpful either, saying, “I’d already figured out what I wanted to do and I feel like it didn’t help me any.”

Chelton added that “it’s not a lot of paperwork, and if it does help somebody, then it’s a good idea.”

Gretchen Walljasper

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