The hazards of transfer students

It’s my eighth year as an undergrad. I don’t want to do some bullshit 200-level classes just to prove I understand a broad subject. Come to think of it, I don’t want to do any more Upper Division Clusters. And fuck the Capstone! Why bother, right?

How can I callously have this attitude towards the milestones of obtaining a degree from PSU, and still expect to graduate?  Because I’m a liberal studies major, that’s why. It’s a handy little loophole that the liberal studies majors have. We are exempt from bullshit requirements. 

I transferred to PSU with exactly 89 credits. Ninety credits would have made me a junior, so I applied my fifth-grade math skills and rounded up. I blithely ignored the University Studies Freshman and Sophomore Inquiry requirements, and simply chose an Upper Division Cluster and a Senior Capstone.

After I had finished my Upper Division Cluster, however, I ran a DARS report – the Degree Audit Reporting System which shows how far you are from completing degree requirements in your major. You can run one for yourself at – I found that my DARS report repeatedly failed to acknowledge my specifically grouped 300-level classes into a "cluster." Before registering for my Capstone, I decided to check on this irregularity.

I found out, to my complete lack of surprise, that I had never completed my Sophomore Inquiry requirement. This did not surprise me because I never did one. What did surprise me was that since I transferred in with 89 credits instead of 90, I started as a sophomore at PSU and I would have to take a Sophomore Inquiry class or I couldn’t graduate.

I looked over the Sophomore Inquiry classes, and none of them looked fun.  The class I would have to take to make my Upper Division Cluster count was only offered during one early time slot, which I fully planned to spend in bed.

Before hopping up and down and cursing the PSU bureaucracy, I discovered the greatest loophole: liberal studies majors are exempt from the Sophomore Inquiry, Junior Cluster and Senior Capstone requirements.  All the bullshit does not apply to liberal arts majors. (Note their ongoing disaffection with GWB, and you’ll see what I mean.)

But this doesn’t mean the liberal studies major is less work, it’s just more self-defined. To complete this degree you need 81 credits of Upper Division courses, all in the liberal studies departments. Eighty-one is a lot – do the math. Twelve-credit terms won’t get you 81 credits in less than two years. So that’s the downside; it takes some time to accumulate the sheer number of credits required.

The upside is, you can take these courses in a broad array of subjects: architecture, history, music, philosophy, theater, foreign language, English, writing, art, geography, sociology, psychology and even some math and science course. All of these classes are considered liberal studies. Chances are, you have interests in at least a couple of these subjects.

If you have a lot of interest in one of them, you can get a minor in that field – and all of the upper division classes you take in that field count towards both the liberal studies major, and the minor, as well.

That is the second loophole I encourage you to exploit: minors and majors can use the same credits. If you are really into three fields, say, theater, philosophy and history, you can triple minor in them all and get a major in liberal studies. No Capstone, no Sophomore Inquiry and you get one hell of an impressive sounding degree.

My degree, for example, is a B.S. in liberal studies (BS – get it?) with minors in philosophy and the classics. I like the sound of that more than "I’m a philosophy major," and, unlike philosophy majors, I don’t have to take a Sophomore Inquiry class.

If you find yourself in a tight spot because of hokey requirements, look into liberal studies. It is a major that shows you are well-rounded, something valued in a workforce of specialized automatons. And it also shows you know the tricks to sneak around bullshit requirements. Prospective employers may well like that.