On Wednesday, May 7, the Educational Policy Committee (EPC) presented faculty with a policy, which would encourage students to pursue an internship as a means of avoiding the excess credit surcharge. Implemented in 2011 by the Florida State Legislature, the excess credit hour surcharge seeks to increase four-year graduation rates at Florida public universities by forcing students to pay up to double the tuition cost for credit hours enrolled in after a student has undertaken 136.4 credit hours.
A number of credit types are exempt from counting towards the 136.4 credit hour threshold, including credits earned through Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, dual-enrollment programs, dual degree program and credits earned through internships.
The EPC presented a plan, which stipulates that New College students should be strongly encouraged to undertake at least one internship for academic credit to avoid the excess credit surcharge.
The surcharge, which was passed in 2011 but is retroactively affective as of 2009, mandates that students pay double the tuition for credit hours undertaken after they have completed 110 percent of the 120 credit hours usually required for students to earn a bachelors degree in Florida public colleges.
Under this policy, first time college students attending a Florida public university or college would be subject to the surcharge after completing 16 credit hours more than a bachelor degree program requires.
However, as New College is both an honors and accelerated academic program, the majority of students who graduate within four years earn about 140 credit hours.
Under the surcharge, New College students who first enrolled in college during or after Fall 2011 will have to pay an additional $372 for their eight semesters while ninth semester students will face a surcharge of $1100.
Third-year and student EPC representative Anthony Serifosy said that the policy still faces challenges from faculty and staff.
“The faculty can either vote to pass it or they can vote it down, and then the proposal will pretty much die,” Serifsoy said.
Although the policy encourages the integration of internships in academic plans, it does not provide for the establishment of new tools to aid faculty and students in planning internships for academic credit.
Provost and Professor of Music Stephen Miles failed to return requests for comments.
Dr. Aaron Edidin, a professor of philosophy and the chairperson of the Division of Humanities, hopes that the internships will provide students with a variety of vocational and academic experiences.
“There will be fields in which pursuing internships will be much more a continuation of the status quo rather than adding something new and there will be fields in which internships will add something new to the program,” Edidin said.
Edidin said that the internship policy is the best of the various solutions and plans to the surcharge that have been offered during the last semester.
“The nice feature about the policy is that its pretty simple and it can be applied pretty easily and it involves doing something that we would encourage students to do in any case.”
Some faculty members and students have expressed concern that Sarasota and the surrounding areas cannot provide internship opportunities for every student. Edidin added that it will be important for New College to develop broader networks within the community as well educating students and faculty about possible ways to integrate internships into an academic program.
“Making the faculty in general aware of internship resources is important,” Edidin said. “It’ll be, as with other things that go into planning academic programs, a partnership.
“We’ll probably expect a fair amount of participation by the student in the work of chasing down the details. But I don’t think that students should feel that they are alone,” Edidin continued.
Fourth-year, former Catalyst photo editor and internship coordinator for the New College Center for Career Education Taylor Meredith said that internships can provide students with the opportunity to learn practical vocational skills and gain insight into the demands of the job market.
“Internships help you prepare for life after New College,” Meredith said. “What you can get away with here you can’t get away with at a job outside of New College.”
Meredith, who is currently completing an internship for academic credit at SRQ Magazine, said that although internships can help students plan for life after college, many students do not have the time for internships.
“Some students don’t intern because they think there aren’t any opportunities, but others don’t intern because they don’t have the time between jobs and school,” Meredith said. “I can see why it would be beneficial for students to intern, but also it’s not going to work for everybody.”
Edidin said that the policy is meant to encourage rather than mandate internships and preserve student choice. He added that he believes that the faculty will approve the policy.
“It proceeds by encouraging students to do something that would remove the surcharge rather than requiring anybody to do anything, so it keeps the element of choice present,” Edidin said.
On May 15, faculty will vote on whether or not to adopt this policy.