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Too Little Almost Too Late

Change in intensive writing requirement complicates student plans for graduating

By Alexandra Maragha
On September 14, 2010



With only 17 credits remaining to reach the 120 plus credits requirement for graduation, I, an excited senior, am ready to embark on my final semester here at NEIU.However, a learned experience moves me to tell my recent academic journey.


This past May I was able to register for needed and desired classes to make my final semester here at NEIU an engaging and stimulating academic experience. Being already registered for two summer courses, I now ensured my graduation date to be December 2010. The final step was to now meet with my academic advisor to complete my academic course record in conjunction with my application for graduation. 


As a Communication, Media and Theatre (CMT) major, I had an assigned adviser with whom I had prior contact with. At our meeting, which took place May 5, my academic record was reviewed and a checklist was completed in accordance with any final requirements. Completing a formal advising checklist pertaining to the major, I would need to not only complete my final semester courses which I was registered for, but also to complete the English Competency Exam (ECE), a requirement of the university. I was on my way, or so I thought. 


I immediately emailed and called my adviser and the CMT department to find some answers, only to be delayed due to the summer hours of the university. Countless hours of attempts to file through the confusion were lost only to hear that a policy change would now required me to take this course, instead of the ECE, because I entered the university and declared my major in fall of 2009. The new policy, which was never officially released to CMT students, made it so anyone who entered the university after fall of 2008, would now have to take this course. 

I then tried to register for the course, only to find that both sections available at the time were full, and would not take more students due to the nature of the course. I found out only the week before classes started that an additional section would be added only through a chance meeting with the chair of the department, also stating that the course would just appear online, and no notification would be sent to students that this additional section would now be offered. Now an official course stalker, I logged on almost six times a day to be able to get into the course, which I did in fact find with five days remaining before the start date. 

As a student, an academic consumer and a communication major, it would have been, and is, greatly appreciated to know about policy changes as soon as they do change as well as all materials pertaining to academic progress to be consistent. Likewise, with technology it is profound that only a letter was mailed to inform students in similar situations as my own about changes which affect students' academic progress. What if I never would have received the letter through the mail or waited for my graduation application to be returned to me after the semester had already started, or had simply gone by what my online degree evaluation indicated? 

In addition, while the University appeals to students to use the NEIUport system to make transactions, register and manage courses and check their academic status through degree evaluations, it would be nice if the degree evaluations would reflect such elements as academic standing, so that preparation and execution can take place allowing students to become more engaged and enthusiastic about their academic experience here at Northeastern. 

Likewise, I appeal to all students to be more conscious and involved through taking the initiative in pursuing their academic interests not only in the classroom, but also to be aware of policy and requirements of both the departments they are associated with through their majors and minors, as well as with the university.



By June 18, I had already started two summer courses when I received a letter in the mail from the CMT department stating "you have not yet completed the University's Writing Intensive Course (WIP) requirement" and that I would need to fulfill this requirement in order to graduate. Stunned, confused and stressed were only a few of my emotions with the letter in hand. 


I quickly logged into my NEIUport to try to seek comfort in reviewing my transcript degree evaluation online, which I would stay on track with each new semester, only to find that nowhere did this seemingly new requirement indicate that needed fulfilled. Sure enough, all other areas of both university and major requirements were indicated as "completed" or "in progress" of completion, including the ECE, but where was this Writing Intensive Course (WIP) requirement?

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