Imagine a world where Science Foundations 101 is no longer a required class, where every freshman ideally takes a college success class, and where a student takes 39 credits to fulfill the general/foundation requirements rather than 40. This is what BYU-Idaho will now be transitioning to; this is the world of general education.
“Foundations has served thousands of BYU-Idaho students marvelously for the past decade,” said Fernando Castro, the Dean of Foundations. “The new approach to general education approved by the Board of Trustees is intended to ensure that future graduates continue to be appropriately prepared for the rapidly-changing demands of their careers.”
BYU-Idaho continues to seek ways to continue to become more student-focused. The system is not perfect, but it constantly evolves. Van Christman, Associate Vice President of Curriculum, said that these changes have been coming for more than a year.
The university is already working on the next catalog year, but these changes are more noticeable than the changes made in past years. In the past, the Foundations requirements have remained the same — now they are evolving.
Christman said that in making these decisions, they compared BYU-I’s foundations with the general coursework of other universities. They have been carefully thought through until they were approved around June of last year. It is only fitting that the university changes the name for the new program.
“The feeling was, ‘do we give it a new name?’ and in the end, it was just a decision that we made that we felt matched better. It was different enough from foundations that we felt it deserved a different name,” Christman said.
The changes might seem like they would make transferring to other schools easier, but students should take more than that into consideration. Christman affirmed that the classes might not be like they were before, but it is still important to be careful about the general classes that you take before making the decision to transfer.
In fact, seeing what credits will actually transfer over needs to be coordinated with the school that you are thinking about transferring to.
Overall, the general studies associate degree is accepted by other schools, and the changes won’t affect that. Christman advises being careful when considering transferring specific classes over to another university because the general courses are unique.
These changes will only be implemented for the new 2019-2020 catalog year. Students with catalog years before this time will not be forced to take more courses to meet the requirements. They will simply stay on their original plan and complete their Foundations courses.
The first students to be directly affected by this will be the incoming freshman students in the upcoming spring semester. The first change involves most of them being strongly encouraged to take the required college success class in their first semester.
Maggie Keller, a freshman majoring in theatre studies, appreciates that the incoming freshman will have a college success class that will help them start college off right.
“Every class talks about study habits and what it takes to be successful, but no one really goes in depth on that, so I was basically on my own, besides the fact that I knew I was supposed to study a lot,” Keller said. “I think it’s so exciting that they have so many opportunities to take different classes, even though it‘s still similar to what (Foundations) were before.”
Other than this change, there will be more class options to choose from — which will give greater opportunity for students to pursue their degree path sooner in school. The only real requirements that everyone will take will be the college success class, English 101, and the required cornerstone religion classes.
Many of the options will remain the same, and students may choose to take the same classes as people in previous catalog years. The only other students who will be required to make these changes will be those who decide to change their major. If a student decides to change their major after this new catalog year is made available, they will have to meet the new requirements with some adjustments.
Through this process of transitioning to general education, both the College of Foundations and the College of General Education will be working to make accommodations to students who might have transferred in or have extenuating circumstances. BYU-Idaho will continue to improve its course structure and seek to give new opportunities to all of its students.
“For students that are here, the best thing is to find a program that they are excited about and stay with it,” said Christman. “I think we do a great job of preparing students for the world of work and for their future lives. Are we moving in a good direction? I think so and we will continue to move in a good direction. I think it will be a blessing to students who come down the road.”