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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp attends the Class of 1972 50-year reunion in Kyle Field on April 20, 2022.
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Common First Year policy draws scrutiny

Shelby Knowles — THE BATTALION
During the spring, general engineering freshman will apply for entry to specific majors.
Shelby Knowles — THE BATTALION During the spring, general engineering freshman will apply for entry to specific majors.

Many freshmen engineering students face an important decision this spring as a new policy within the 25 by 25 Initiative has them again filling out admissions applications — this time to specific engineering majors.
The Common First Year policy, CFY, delays a student’s admission into a specific engineering department until at least one completed semester in the hopes of educating freshmen about the different fields. The move has drawn criticism, however, from students who say they didn’t receive the guidance they wanted and from professors who are concerned it may hold students back from gaining necessary experience.
Frank Shipman, computer science professor, said CFY has the potential to cause difficulty for students during registration.
“The College of Engineering appears to be enforcing the Common First Year by limiting the courses that freshmen can sign up for even if they already have credit for some of the freshman requirements,” Shipman said. “Freshmen seem to have to get special dispensation to take additional courses offered within the College of Engineering, unless they have already met all the outside of engineering requirements from the university.”
Shipman said CFY also presents difficulty for many majors because students will not focus on their majors until the second year.
“The main concern with the potential resulting change to undergraduate degrees is that the students will have less knowledge and experience in their core discipline,” Shipman said.
A survey conducted last semester by the Student Engineers’ Council showed that while most students agreed withStudent Engineers’ Council showed that while most students agreed with CFY in theory, they were frustrated by the inability or difficulty to get into engineering classes. The Battalion spoke with more than a dozen freshmen engineering students, and the responses largely matched the SEC survey, which is conducted every semester on current engineering topics.
Christina Sheldon, general engineering freshman, said CFY is a good plan, but it was poorly implemented.
“Their idea behind it was real good, but they implemented it very badly because their plan was to come in as general engineering and get more info about different engineering majors and then decide, but they didn’t give us any info about different engineering majors,” Sheldon said.
Sheldon said she felt Engineering 111 and 112 — the classes designed to provide a scope of options to freshman students — fell short because they are filled with “busy work” that consumes much more time than necessary. Despite these drawbacks, Sheldon said the engineering college has been receptive to student feedback.
Valerie Taylor, senior associate dean for academic affairs with the Dwight Look College of Engineering, said the change of freshmen to general engineering allows students to learn more about each major before committing to any particular path of study.
“The change to having freshmen enter as general engineering students allows the students to have time to become familiar with the majors within the Dwight Look College of Engineering, so that they can make an informed decisions when applying for entry into a major,” Taylor said.
Taylor said departments have a limit on seats within sophomore courses but the college anticipates sufficient room for freshmen students as they move into their degree plans.
“Departments have a limit on the number of seats available in the sophomore-level courses,” Taylor said. “There is, however, sufficient capacity across all of the departments for the incoming freshman as well as some transfer students and change-of-curriculum students. It is recognized, however, that some majors within the Look College are in greater demand than other majors.”
Taylor said all engineering classes will be capped at 100 students, and the college will continue to develop infrastructure and hire professors to accommodate new students.
The Spring 2015 application term for specific engineering departments opened Feb. 9 and closes March 3.

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