The Northern Marianas College has bared plans to revisit its existing individual degree plans, or IDPs, to put the programs in line with 60 credits for associated degrees and 120 credits for baccalaureate degrees.
Based on the latest report submitted to the Board of Regents, the plan will be implemented starting in the fall 2014 semester.
Saipan Tribune learned that at NMC, a student carrying 12 or more credits in the fall or spring semester is considered a “full-time student.” A student planning to complete an associate degree within two years is advised to complete at least 15 credits every semester.
Based on its records, the percentage of NMC students taking 15 credits of fewer per semester is considerably higher than the national average.
For two-year degree programs, the percentage of students at the national level taking fewer than 15 credits is 71 percent. At NMC, the figure is 84 percent.
Also, at the national level, those taking over 15 credits in two-year degree programs are at 29 percent; at NMC this is only 16 percent.
For four-year degree programs, students taking fewer than 15 credits or over 15 credits is both at 50 percent at the national level. A NMC, students taking below 15 credits are at 64 percent while those taking 15 and over credits are at 36 percent.
Based on NMC’s current plan, it wants to make its full-time student enroll in at least 15 credits instead of the current 12.
Barabara Merfalen, dean of Academic Programs and Services, has scheduled a series of meetings with the academic and student support leadership to discuss this strategy.
NMC president Dr. Sharon Y. Hart said: “APS [Academic Programs Services] and AC [Academic Council] are working together to make changes to the Individual Degree Plan forms within degree programs to meet or to be closer to the 60/120 degree credits for successful completion of program: 60 for associate degrees and 120 for baccalaureates.”
It was bared last week that few students graduate on time at NMC: Only 8 percent of students taking associate degrees graduate within two years while nobody has yet to complete a four-year degree on time.
NMC has only one four-year degree, the School of Education. Most of its courses are for associate degrees, or two-year programs.
Hart said the college must improve its “completion and retention” rates because the institution will be ranked and that data would be utilized by the federal government to decide on the funding to be earmarked for individual institutions.