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Taking Fluff Classes

  1. Mar 27, 2014 #1
    Taking "Fluff" Classes

    This is something I've noticed about college education in general which really irks me.

    I'm a pretty good student. Physics and mathematics major, 4.0 GPA, research, scholarships, blah blah blah. In order to avoid having to take difficult physics/math classes at the same time as gen ed classes, I took AP courses in high school and took many during the summers at a local community college (saving money, and time). Like most students in college, I'm pretty well-rounded. I've taken art history, music, English, business, languages, you get the picture.

    Apparently, that's not enough to graduate. The university dictates that I must have 120 hours taken at the university in order to graduate. Taking only 12-13 credit hours of difficult courses per semester (with research and a job, it keeps me plenty busy) is not enough.

    My advisor made me a plan of study for the "fluff classes" which are easiest for me to take before graduating. These classes include Bowling, Billiards, Badminton I, Indoor Group Cycling, Fitness Walking, Aerobics, and one more that I don't remember. Of these, I need to choose five. Amusingly enough, with this I'll be able to graduate with a minor in recreational studies (which I think will complement my physics major, computer science minor, and mathematics major quite nicely).

    Has anyone else had to deal with crap like this? I can understand being well-rounded, but it would take an awful lot to convince me that playing badminton four hours a week for a grade will make me a better student/person.
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  3. Mar 27, 2014 #2


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    Well, the minimum-credit requirement was created to prevent people from taking 90% of their courses at Small-State-College X and then transferring to Large-Research-University Y and graduating, with only Large-Research-University Y is listed on the degree.

    Is it a sales thing? Yes, for sure - they want your money. But it's also protecting the "brand" of Large-Research-University Y.

    In a lot of respects, universities are like businesses. Of course this won't be a big surprise to you :smile:.

    Meanwhile, it sounds like you're going to be in terrific shape!
  4. Mar 27, 2014 #3


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    That seems abhorrently high. That would basically imply that your university accepts no transfers students and if they did they would be require to spend four years there! I've seen minimum required at universities, usually 40-60 range, but 120 is out there.
  5. Mar 27, 2014 #4


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    It could be the the OP's university is on a different system than semesters or quarters.

    OP, how does your university count units?
  6. Mar 27, 2014 #5
    We do things for semesters.
  7. Mar 27, 2014 #6


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    So going full-time, how long does it take to earn 120 credits?
  8. Mar 27, 2014 #7


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    Why take a "fluff" class?

    I might offer another point of view on the whole thing. You're in a desirable position. Most people in the world don't have the chance to go to university at all. And then of the lucky few who get to go, fewer yet have the opportunity to take all the classes they want.

    So unless you have a particular interest in badminton, I wouldn't bother with that. If you have a 4.0 GPA then maybe you should be challenging yourself a little more.

    As a general comment, I really don't understand how these days it's possible to get two majors and a minor and take classes in art history, music, English, business, languages... all in the span of four years. Is it healthy to allow high school students to stack up so many advanced placement credits that they have time to waste in university?
  9. Mar 27, 2014 #8
    A lot of schools have killed a bunch of requirements for majors and have flex versions majors.
  10. Mar 27, 2014 #9
    I have considered taking more math and physics classes, however they tend to meet at the same time which causes some issues. The "fluff" classes, though, often meet in early mornings or evenings. In addition, I simply do not have time to do the extra work.

    The typical student can do it in four years, taking more credits than I am now. I chose to take more classes during the summer (16 hours last summer - would not recommend) than during the semester, thinking that it would make my semesters a little bit lighter. Yeah, I was wrong.
  11. Mar 27, 2014 #10


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    It might be just an unintended consequence of a politically correct attitude to "equal opportunity". If the education system is set up so that everybody can succeed and nobody should be allowed to fail, it's not surprising if it converges to a point where you need a PhD in hospitality studies to flip burgers, plus an MBA to if you want to manage the diner.

    Maybe people who learn stuff faster than than other people (and do geeky stuff like calculus at high school, shock, horror!!) is just a transient situation among those who haven't yet been reprogrammed to properly buy into the principles of equality and universal mediocrity :smile:
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2014
  12. Mar 27, 2014 #11


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    Are you sure about this?

    With the usual semester hours, in which a normal "full load" is 15 hours per semester or 30 per year, 120 is a typical total number needed for graduation. Requiring that all (or practically all) of them be taken in residence would make it impractical for students to transfer in from somewhere else after one or two years.

    The usual residency requirement that I've seen is something like "30 of the last 60 hours must be in residence", with the numbers perhaps varying somewhat.
  13. Mar 28, 2014 #12
    Instead of thinking of them as fluff classes, why not view them as an opportunity to learn something new and build a routine out of it? I would imagine that four hours out of your week to get physical activity and not worry about other "academic" subjects is very healthy for the mind and body of a busy student. Having routine physical/recreational activity I would argue actually contributes way more to being a better student, person, and researcher than any one class can. That said, requiring 120 credit hours is a bit absurd. I could understand requiring the recreational/physed type classes, but requiring that many credits to be taken at the school is pretty crazy.
  14. Mar 28, 2014 #13
    I should specify - my school does, of course, allow transfer students. If you come in with an associate's degree, your requirements are very different.
  15. Mar 28, 2014 #14
    so are you a transfer student?
  16. Mar 28, 2014 #15
    I am currently enrolled in a community college. Apparently this is mandatory for us too.
  17. Mar 28, 2014 #16
    No. I came in with several credits, but no associate's.
  18. Mar 28, 2014 #17
    Another question I have - if I take "useful" courses (math, physics, etc.), is it better to take them pass/fail so that they don't affect my GPA, or will a potential grad school admissions officer prefer a B to a pass/fail?
  19. Mar 28, 2014 #18

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    If you are at Illinois State (one place that has the ranking you posted), if the university grants you AP credit, this counts as courses taken there. I expect other universities have very similar policies. It is unheard of for a university to grant AP credit - but not count it against graduation. Kind of defeats the whole point of "credit".
  20. Mar 29, 2014 #19
    It looks like the student who wrote this is only taking 12 credits a semester at his university, and then piling on summer school community college credits. Apart from a calculus sequence and an intro physics sequence (that it sounds like he might have AP credits for), the community college can't have much to offer in his major(s), so he is loading up on superfluous stuff.

    Also, some art history, english and languages all sound like gen ed. requirements. For the gen eds surrounding my physics major I had to take three semesters of a foreign language, two writing seminars, and I could have taken art history but took some philosophy classes instead.
  21. Mar 29, 2014 #20
    I did not come into university with any physics credits, as my high school didn't offer physics. The reason that so many general education classes are required for me is because of the scholarship I'm getting. An "international component" is required, but because I chose to not study abroad, I needed to take several European culture/language/history/economics classes.

    Typically, you're right - most students only graduate with one major. For physics and math, many of the classes overlap, and my technical major is computer physics, which overlaps a lot with computer science, so it's not as many classes as you might think.
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