Hello my fellow M’22’s,

We have just begun our third year in Minerva, meaning that we have already hit our midway point. If you’re like me — and I’m sure the majority of you are — you would have taken a total of 6 classes in your second year. That amounts to 24 credits and, adding the workload we all took in freshman year, that means that most of us have already finished 56 credits worth of classes. The problem is, we need 120 credits to get our degree and graduate and we’ve not even hit the halfway point yet. How did this happen? Where did we go wrong? 

Classes Credit Hours (M’22)Credit Hours (M’23, later classes)
Freshman Year Cornerstones (4 classes)32 (16 per semester)32 (16 per semester)
Sophomore Year Normal Class Load (3 classes)24 (12 per semester)24 (12 per semester)
Junior Year Normal Class Load (3 classes + 0.5 Capstone)28 (14 per semester)28 (14 per semester)
Senior Year Normal Class Load (2 classes/tutorials + 1 Capstone)24 (12 per semester)24 (12 per semester)
ICC (only for M23 and later classes, renamed IL91)4
Business Practicum (only for business majors)44
(116 for Business majors)
(120 for Business majors)
Credit hours needed to graduate1 2 01 2 0

Minerva didn’t want us to take a fourth class in our second year for our mental health, so here are the options they have left us with:

  1. Take a fourth class in junior year
  2. Take a fourth class in senior year
  3. Take up to 8 extra credits you haven’t completed after graduation (or help your case by being a Business major)
  4. Take IL199s

Let me break down how none of these are actually viable options, and iterate just how fucked we are.

In order to take a fourth class, we must first petition to Minerva to be allowed to take it. This would be less infuriating if it wasn’t for the fact that you would have to have had virtually zero absences and extensions in any of your previous classes to get your petition approved. I’m not overexaggerating, this is an actual thing I was told by Minerva. 

First of all, what the fuck. Second of all, what. the. fuck. Why would Minerva give me three undocumented absences and four extensions and tell me that I would not be penalised — academically or otherwise — for taking them, only to say that any fourth classes I petition for would get rejected for these reasons? Is this not a form of punishment? It feels to me that Minerva is changing the rules to a game whilst we’re playing, and I don’t have much of a say in it. The people who did get their petitions approved were the exceptions, not the rule.

Also, what kind of double standard bullshit is this? Minerva almost never releases anything when they say they would. How many extensions do they get? If Minerva expects us to have never taken an absence or extension for our work, then they should lead by example.

Even if you somehow manage to meet these standards, the hurdles do not stop there. Because — surprise! You can’t take more than 16 credits in any given term. And since during our third year we take 14 credits (capstone seminars are two credits in our third year), we actually can’t take another class without going over the 16 credit limit! I don’t know if this was ever explicitly said to us, but I only found out about this rule through research and can’t find it in the student handbook to confirm. It seems a bit suspect to me that this was never explained to us before it was too late, thereby forcing our hand to push over any additional credits we might have to complete to our fourth year — AKA: Death Year.

Minerva has planned for us to take 12 credits each term (including tutorials and capstone seminars), so we have space to take an extra class there (hopefully Minerva gives us permission to complete our degree!). I would like to point out that this does seem rather counterintuitive to Minerva’s rationale. If taking a fourth class in our sophomore year would be so detrimental to our mental health, would this stress not be heightened in our senior year, when we’re focusing on our capstone and tutorials, and all of our courses are concentration courses (which are inherently more difficult and in-depth than the core courses we take in our second year)? Where is the sense? Where? 

Fourth-year also brings about the added stress of looking for jobs and trying to plan your life after university. This is all on the assumption that we complete our 120 credits on time and graduate, though. If not, Minerva has assured us that we can make up up to 8 credits worth of classes after our graduation free of charge, the only catch is that you don’t get your diploma on time — ‘cause that will reduce our stress! Already in the outside world, we have to convince everyone that Minerva is a real university, can you imagine what it will look like claiming to have graduated but with no diploma to show for it? I don’t know about you, but if my friend came to me with a similar situation then I’d say “you just got scammed, hun,” and can you blame anyone for thinking that? Minerva already sounds like a scam to anyone who first hears about it, and this certainly does not help…

What is Minerva’s response to this predicament? Behold, the IL199s! For the price of one class, you can instead take two civic projects that you probably don’t care about and aren’t meaningful or relevant to what you want to do in life and write a report about it — because that definitely is worth part of the tuition you pay! Oh, but what’s that? Someone’s at the door, who could it be — oh it’s COVID! And — wait, where did all of our civic projects go? Oh, they’re called civic challenges now and will definitely not be anywhere close to taking 120 hours to complete and so Minerva is not providing any means for us to get in-term credits? Great! It’s fine; we can just get an outside internship or something during the term— oh what? Most of us are on work-study? Oh. Welp, Minerva raises a huge middle finger to all of y’all then. Figure it out on your own, and then when you do somehow figure a way out of this pile of dung, Minerva will claim that they were teaching us a valuable lesson in creative problem solving, because don’t you see that eVeRyThInG iS iNtEnTiOnAl.

And regardless if you do figure out everything, the fact that the majority of a class cannot graduate on time with the provided (and indeed insisted upon) standard workload set up by Minerva, then something is definitely wrong. I mean, is this even allowed? We’re paying for 120 credits, but Minerva has forced most of us to take 112 and find our way to the other 8. How can they get accredited if it’s literally impossible for students to complete a full degree with the prescribed standard course load without severely damaging their mental health? Are all universities like this? I sincerely doubt it.

So now, we’ve reached the section of the article where I propose some solutions so that it’s not just me complaining about a broken system without actually taking any steps into trying to fix it. Without further delay, here are perhaps some things that could be done to just give us a little bit more of freedom: 

Part 1: Have the administration make overload petitions easier — In the case of M’22, let our cohort overload this spring! Yes, we know it’s a lot, but our mental health is best when we’re on track to graduate.

Part 2: Retroactively get IL199 credits for our first year required civic projects that were a year-long — we put in the hours, we wrote papers more intense and comprehensive than IL199 summary papers. Why is this not worth at least four credits of IL199? Especially when our cohort was the only one required to do these projects. If the administration doesn’t want to recognise these credits across M’22, then M’22s — start applying for IL199 & use your first-year civic projects! 

Part 3: Make the criteria of an appropriate experience for an IL199 less strict. Not all of us can afford to prioritise good internships that don’t pay much over the summer. Sometimes we apply to jobs based on what we can afford to do, and based off of what will end up paying us the most money and has the most benefits. I know in my case, I took jobs that paid a lot over jobs that would have given me a richer experience. As a result, my summer internships do not qualify for IL199s (I’ve asked), and in the end, I am left having to choose between getting my diploma on time and being able to afford said diploma.

So yeah, Minerva, thank you for thinking about my mental health but also, I feel like this was something I should have been consulted in instead of being forced to do.

the end

y’all im done

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