The letter to the editor by John Younger ("Part-time student policy hurts families," Nov. 5) caught my attention and brought back unpleasant memories.
Last year, my son was a senior at Duke. For financial reasons, he applied for part-time status in his last semester. He was turned down, as were 60-some other students, because they had not applied in the spring of their junior year. When I talked to Dean Richard White, he promised to change my son's status if we could prove that his case was different from all others. We did (my son had spent his entire junior year in Europe; there was no advisor available "on site"; the credits for his year abroad were approved only at the begining of his final semester); the dean did not keep his promise. It will take us a while longer to pay back the additional loans we had to take out, but at least our integrity was intact after this charade.
In his last letter of our extended correspondence on the subject, Dean White promised to review the policies "for sound logistical reasons" and presumably make them more user-friendly. Obviously this did not happen.
Since circumstances for students may change unexpectedly and most students are not clairvoyant, I suggest a modest proposal: Every junior should apply for part-time status in his last semester, just in case. There is no penalty for not going through with it, but the penalty of applying late, no matter what the reason, is thousands of dollars. I challenge every faculty advisor to make juniors not only aware of the policy, but to recommend that every student who may have enough credits for graduation make application for part-time status.
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