Students’ Take on McDaniel Plan

Karla Holland

Staff Reporter

This year, McDaniel says goodbye not only to the graduating class of 2010 but also the last generation to have BLAR as their academic plan. Many freshmen have probably heard debates over the nature of BLAR’s replacement: the McDaniel plan. As I learned researching this topic, the issue regarding this new plan is much more complicated than many students may realize. According to Communication Chair Deborah Vance, the plan changed because students on BLAR “would try to get every [general requirement] out of the way soon and faculty were hoping the new plan would get rid of that way of thinking, but it hasn’t.”

Kathleen Levendusky, a Junior, history major and peer mentor, “understands why they make us take these requirements but I wish they wouldn’t go completely off kilter from my focus.” So why are students taking classes they don’t need? First, each department interprets the plan according to their focus. Unfortunately, the gross miscommunication between administration, staff, faculty and/or whole departments have led to students missing out on classes they needed and wasting time on classes they didn’t.

On the other hand, Junior and religious studies major Jeff Griepentrog sees the plan differently because he “can’t take water classes or aerobics classes because of [his] disabilities.” “I’ve tried to take archery and bowling,” Griepentrog said, “but the classes filled up quickly.”

As Jeff reminded me, there are issues that can hold students back regardless of the plan in effect. The recession has forced cutbacks that have made departments cut courses out of their curriculums, including requirements. Adding to these difficulties, new time codes have been set which force students to choose between requirements being taught at the same time. If that was not enough, absences from teachers on sabbatical make requirements unavailable for up to several semesters at a time, forcing some students to extend their graduation date to a year or longer. According to Jeff, his roommate, George, is also dealing with these problems: “He’s a Bio-Chem major but he needs a language and the only language classes are at the same times as the classes he needs for bio. All that’s left is Spanish. Why does a doctor need Spanish anyway?”

As for why George may need Spanish, I can only think about my mother, a physician who returned to school for her MBA when I was still in high school. Among her general requirements was a basic Spanish course. Did she ever use it? Well, let’s say I wouldn’t ask her for help in my SPA 1102 final. My point is: If the McDaniel plan has any silver lining right now, it’s that it reminds you that the biggest obstacles to fight for in life are the ones that will hold you back the most. By then, other barriers look like mere gaps in the road.