Opinion

Muskens: Credit world of education

You hear a lot about credit these days: people with good credit, those with bad credit and some who wish they didn’t get all that credit two years ago.

But credit isn’t always about banking, the economy or having to carry plastic cards in your wallet.

In the academic world of post-secondary education we live and breathe a credit system.

For example, most academic courses are usually three credits.

This means that a student who completes Okanagan College’s English 150 course successfully will be awarded three academic credits.

This student can use these credits toward an Okanagan College associate degree, or diplomas in Media and Cultural Studies, Writing and Publishing, Journalism Studies, Criminal and Social Justice or Business Administration.

He or she can also apply these three credits of English to a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.

This student can also apply to have these credits transferred to any university in the province.

Once the course and its credits are transferred, these credits can be used towards just about any degree offered at most post-secondary institutions, as many degrees require students to complete at least six credits in English.

These credits would probably be accepted at most universities across the country in that they apply to a first-year English course.

I also suspect that some Okanagan College students have received transfer credit for this course at colleges or universities outside of Canada.

Achieving a credential such as a certificate, degree or diploma, requires a certain amount of credits.

Academic certificates tend to require 24 credits and diplomas often demand that students complete 60 credits.

A bachelor’s degree usually requires 120 credits. Within these credits, students are expected to meet specific credit requirements.

For example, a student who wanted to complete a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in history would need to complete a minimum of 48 history credits.

Most history courses are worth three credits each, which means the student would have to complete a minimum of 16 history courses.

On top of this, students would need to make sure that within these 48 credits (16 courses) at least 30 credits (10 courses) were numbered 300 or higher.

This is called an upper-level requirement which means that to get your Bachelor of Arts degree you need to make sure you complete the required first, second, third and fourth-year courses.

If this same student wanted to complete a minor in English they would have to make sure they complete at least 30 credits (10 courses) in English with at least 18 credits (six courses) in English courses numbered 300 or higher.

If this sounds straight forward, that’s great—but not all degrees follow these rules.

A number of degrees require you to complete specific courses and without having credit for these courses students cannot graduate.

Other degrees require more than 120 credits.

Program requirements will sometimes require that you need three credits of electives.

This means that student can choose whatever three-credit course they want to take as long as it gives them three credits.

You will also see other rules such as three credits of arts electives.

This means that the course must be an arts course.

And in some cases you will see three credits of mathematics at the 200-level, which means you have to complete one course in mathematics that is numbered in the 200s.

So, credit is a good thing at colleges and universities.

The more credit a student receives the closer they are to graduation.

Jane Muskens is the registrar at Okanagan College.

 

jmuskens@okanagan.bc.ca

 

 

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