Phase Two of CUP experiment approved for Class of 2023

Discovery units incorporated into credit limit, early sophomore standing removed

The Committee on Undergraduate Preparation (CUP) approved a Phase Two continuation of the first-year experiment April 17. The experiment, which will impact the Class of 2023 and is spearheaded by the Office of the Vice Chancellor (OVC), is designed to “promote greater exploration and discovery” according to the OVC website.

The grading policy from Phase One of the first-year experiment that allows students in the Class of 2022 to designate up to three science core General Institute Requirements as Pass or No Record after their first semester will be continued.

The first-year credit limit will be modified, with a fall credit limit of 48 units and a spring credit limit of 60 units, as well as an additional 9 “discovery” units both semesters for discovery-focused subjects and related approved exceptions. Classes that count toward these “discovery” units include one to three-unit first-year discovery subjects, first-year advising seminars, and UROPs for credit.

“What we’re trying to do is have people feel that they’ve had the opportunity to explore and try out different things,” Waitz said. “The difficulty is that when the dominant way to do that is with twelve-unit classes, you can’t try too many of them at once, and I think that [this experiment] will enable students to try many more things.”

Additionally, Early Sophomore Standing (ESS) status, which allows second semester first-years to declare a major and exceed the credit limit, will not be offered for the Class of 2023.

Kate Weishaar ’18, first-year experience coordinator in the OVC, expressed concerns with ESS in an interview with The Tech. According to Weishaar, ESS could pressure students who want to declare their major early to take more units, as well as pressure students who want an increased credit limit to declare their major early.

By removing ESS and increasing the spring credit limit for all students to 60 units plus 9 discovery units, Weishaar said the OVC hoped to separate those elements and make them more accessible, while enabling all students to get advice about different majors.

Waitz conceded that while removing the option to declare ESS might negatively impact the 3–4 percent of current students who want to take more than the new second semester credit limit, 60 units was enough for most students.

Increasing the limit to 60 units, “students may feel that they have to take five classes, and they absolutely don’t — for most students still, taking four classes is going to be the right answer,” Waitz continued.

According to Waitz, while some were concerned that the P/NR policy would lead to students with a weaker foundation in the core subjects, the P/NR policy “pairs well” with the discovery credit limit. “P/NR gives you a little bit of potential for stress relief while you’re trying to add on a different mode of exploring things for discovery, so it’s a nice balance in that way,” he said.

To best implement Phase Two, Waitz and Weishaar said that the OVC will spend the coming months analyzing new information, such as a second round of interviews with students who were interviewed in the fall, as well as choice of major data and spring grades for the Class of 2022.

The OVC is also working closely with the departments to encourage them to put discovery subjects in place and help them provide pre-major advising for all first-year students. The OVC has not yet started thinking about an experiment or policy for the Class of 2024, Waitz said.