Students entering the University of Calgary this fall faced another tough decision when they applied: what faculty to apply for?
Under Direct Entry, beginning this September, first-year students must choose a faculty when they apply. In previous years, most programs--except Fine Arts, Engineering, Nursing and Kinesiology--required students to spend at least one year in the faculty of Communication and Culture before entering their desired program.
U of C Associate Vice-President Student Affairs Peggy Patterson said the change was made to accommodate student needs.
"What students told us is they wanted to be part of a small community rather than a large country," said Patterson. "They wanted to be with other students interested in the same things they are."
According to Patterson, only 35 per cent of students are unsure of their intended faculty upon entering university, while the remaining 65 per cent know what they will be studying and would like to begin there.
Students' Union Vice-President Academic Rosie Nagra is concerned with the undecided students, stating it will be difficult for them to move around once they are admitted into a faculty.
"You pretty much have to know what you're going to do when you apply," said Nagra. "It's going to be hard to switch."
According to Patterson, this is not the case. The university had this concern in mind when designing the system. Students can change faculties as they did before, and via the InfoNet.
"It is important for students to know they can change their mind," Patterson said, adding that students can apply for a faculty change at the beginning of their second semester. "We don't want to do anything to restrict those students [seeking a transfer]."
Nagra also expressed concern with students having to pick their major or specialty immediately. Again, Patterson emphasized this was not the case for most programs.
"They can [choose a major] if they want, but they don't have to," she said. Humanities and Social Sciences allow up to ten full courses before choosing a major, while students in Science must take four before they can decide.
Students currently enrolled will also be affected by the switch if they are in Communication and Culture as pre-program students.
"In February of this year, every student in pre-program received a letter from the university. They were asked to make an initial commitment to a faculty by April 1," said Patterson, noting that if they have yet to choose their faculty, they still shouldn't have problems.
There are also differences for faculties with quota limits, like Nursing and Management. First-year students will choose a second faculty to enroll if they do not meet the requirements and, as before, will have the opportunity to re-apply later on. Students who are returning will be allotted room in these programs as well.
Patterson said there will be separate quotas for both second and third-year students, as well as transfer students.
"We based numbers for year two and three students on numbers that would usually register in year three," she said. "Obviously the cutoff averages would have to be pretty high, [but] if they have the average [of 71 per cent] they will certainly be able to get into a program at the university."
In addition to information sessions held earlier this year, students are encouraged to consult the Undergraduate Programs Office in Social Sciences 209 or the U of C website.