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Mills leaves behind old credit curriculum for more standard system

Fall of 2016 will bring a change for new and continuing Mills students with the introduction of the Carnegie credit system.

The Carnegie credit system, as stated in an email sent out to campus from the Provost’s Office sent on March 14, is the standardized system for college credit. According to Associate Provost Dr. Chinyere-Oparah, it is the most widely used credit system in the United States.

“We thought it would benefit students, it would be simpler and we realized it would take a transition to get us here, but we thought it was going to be worthwhile in the long run,” Oparah said.

The switch from Mills’ credits to Carnegie’s semester credits was decided by a task force comprised of faculty and the Registrar’s Office, Oparah said. Members of Information and Technical Services (ITS) were also involved in implementing the new credit system. These groups investigated the Carnegie model and came up with proposals about how a transition between credit systems would work. Once they compiled the information, they took it to the faculty where it was voted on.

At a luncheon meeting on March 15, Oparah and Assistant Dean of Students, Sabrina Kwist, explained the change in credits and how it will affect continuing students in the Fall. All courses taken prior to the change in credit systems will be listed under the former Mills system; all Fall 2016 courses and beyond will be under the Carnegie one.

The Registrar’s Office multiplies continuing undergraduate students’ old Mills credits by 3.5 in order to calculate their total semester credits under the Carnegie system. Graduate students’ semester credits will be dependent on the program they are enrolled in.

A PDF file sent to all students on campus about the new credits said that the new full-time semester course load will consist of 15 semester credits, leading to a total of 30 semester credits a year. Students who get financial aid will have to take at least 12 semester credits to be eligible to receive financial aid.  However, even though 12 is the minimum credits needed for full-time aid, Oparah said that the recommended course load to graduate on time is 15 semester credits. A student must have a total of 120 credits to graduate under the new system.

Classes will vary on how many credits they are worth, but will typically be 3 credits. Student will be able to have a variety of options when planning their courses, and will likely have similar course loads to what they are already taking.

Oparah wants to assure students, especially those who will be seniors in Fall 2016, that the top priority of this transition is that students graduate on time.

“If they are on track to graduate and they listen to their adviser’s advice in terms of what they need to take, they will graduate on time,” Oparah said. “We’re going to make sure no rising senior is penalized because of this transition of this system.”

Oparah stated that an important reason this switch was made was for transfer students. By switching from Mills’ more unique system of credit to the more common semester credits, transferring in and out of the College will be much easier. It will be especially helpful with the cross-registration agreement that Mills has with UC Berkeley. 

“As we know transfer students have raised concerns about the fact that when they come here they’ve taken a course for 3 credits and here it’s in some strange fraction, and what does that mean, and they often feel that that’s a disadvantage moving forward with their degree,” Oparah said. “I think that was a main driver behind this.”

ASMC Vice President Erin Clark said that this policy will be good for transfer students because it simplifies their credit conversion when they come to Mills.

“Not only are we making transferring to Mills much easier, but we’ll also be on par with most other institution’s credit system,” Clark said. “It’s amazing to know how responsive our administration is trying to be this semester, and I hope students don’t take it for granted.”

Oparah believes this system, though different from the one that has been in place since before her 20 year tenure at Mills, will be a good change.

“This is the old system. It’s something that we’re used to, something that we’ve had [for over] 20 years…rather than keeping with what we have just because it’s here, we really wanted to look at what do we need going forward,” Oparah said.

For students who could not attend the meeting, Oparah wants them to know that there are ways of getting all the information they need about credit conversion. Academic advisers have all the information to keep students on track for graduation.

For any additional information, they can also visit the M Center or email