A new protocol for some departments at USF is another example of factions of the University trying to correct a specific problem with a sweeping policy that will end up harming more students than it should.
Starting this semester, students majoring in biomedical sciences, biology, microbiology, chemistry, medical technology and undeclared pre-medical sciences students will be forced to change majors if they receive three D’s or F’s in any required courses for their major.
This rule applies for first-time USF students and continuing students with no D’s or F’s. Those who already have at least one D and/or F will be forced to change majors if they receive two more.
This policy seems unnecessarily harsh, especially considering its apparent goal. Katharine Cole, assistant dean of Undergraduate Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences, said it will help “identify struggling students and help them find a new path for success.”
There are some students who repeat lower-level science courses multiple times with no improvement and should reconsider their major. However, some students just struggle in certain areas. Students must do well in every class required for their major, including math, biology, chemistry and physics – and they can only mess up twice.
Not only would a student have to change majors, he or she could not switch to any major in the Department of Chemistry, Department of Integrative Biology or Department of Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology.
Students who are serious about pursuing a career in science or going to medical school will likely switch to another university with less stringent policies, rather than choose a major they will not enjoy. An exodus of science majors would end up hurting USF.
Failing a few classes does not mean students won’t succeed.
The policy may even add stress to students who do well in all their courses. Though they make good grades, students may worry too much – knowing that after just three strikes, they’re out. College is stressful enough.
The University should not group students who are struggling with students who will never succeed in biology or chemistry. Those who receive three D’s and/or F’s should instead be required to meet with a departmental adviser. They should be required to receive counseling and tutoring and should only be expelled from their major in extreme situations.