Professor of Physics and Interim Registrar Chuck Schultz first became aware of a major issue with music credits at Knox during the Fall Term, while assisting an academic advisor with their students’ graduation requirements. Schultz noticed the student had far exceeded the number of 100-level music lessons credits allowed to count towards graduation.
“Neither of them were aware this stipulation had been in the catalogue for years… this was one of the better faculty advisors that’s out there, and if he didn’t know it then presumably others didn’t,” Schultz said.
Schultz proceeded to inquire into the extent of the issue, and estimated that dozens of students had exceeded the limit. While students are allowed to sign up for as many private music lessons as they wish, the music department’s current policy is to only allow 1.5 credits per course level to count towards graduation.
“There was an example of a student who had taken a number of 100-level music lessons and progressed in his skills so he was put in a 200-level music lesson,” Schultz said. “Presumably from that time on he should have been taking 200, but then he took four more 100-level course lessons.”
Schultz proceeded to bring the issue to the attention of Knox’s curriculum committee, who in turn reached out to music professor and department chair Nikki Malley to collaborate on resolving the issue.
“We’ve had that policy on the books for yearsÉ but nobody was monitoring it and I think everybody thought someone else was,” Malley said. “We really wanted to incentivize students who are taking lessons to keep working. If you could take lessons forever at the 100-level and just keep getting credit for them, there isn’t that additional incentive to test into the next level.”
All students who surpassed the limit have been granted blanket amnesty, meaning it will not delay their graduation. Knox’s curriculum committee made the determination that no students should be penalized for the issue, on the assumption all had acted in good faith.
“It’s disappointing, the registrar was suppose to be keeping track of these things and it was clearly there in the catalogue, but people don’t use the catalogue as much as we hoped they would,” Schultz said.
The solution devised for avoiding the issue in the future was simply adding a line to students’ degree audit, stating how many credits the student has earned from private music lessons and how many may apply to graduation.
“The issue was that students needed to have a quick way of knowing without looking through their entire unofficial transcript and counting,” Schultz said. “So faculty members and students should they look at their degree audit, which they’re supposed to do every term, cannot miss the fact that they’re over.”
The line for music lesson credits will now appear on all student degree audits, regardless of whether the student has taken any music classes at Knox. Schultz noted that since announcing this during winter break, he has had to clarify to students that this does not mean that all students are required to take music lessons.
Malley observed that most students who went over the limit had enough additional credits to graduate on time regardless. She also believes that while majors and minors in the music department are accustomed to not receiving credit for all private lessons, the rules may have been less clear to students outside of the department.
“I think a lot of students who are not necessarily music majors or minors understandably have taken as many for credit as they can, because if you’re doing the work why not get the credit for it,” Malley said.
Going forward, Malley hopes to make downward communication more clear with more reminders about the policy. Her hope is that students understand that they may continue signing up for as many private lessons as they wish, as there has been no change to the policy besides clearer communication of the limit on graduation credit.
“It’s funny at a school like Knox, where we are small and we talk to each other everyday, we think that everything is clearly communicated,” she said. “But there are always times where we find out that something everybody thought was understood is not.”