Opinion

Extra year means extra opportunities

The Plus One Scholarship Program, which will launch this spring semester, offers undergraduates a tuition-free year or semester beyond the normal timespan needed to complete an undergraduate degree.

Three years in the making, Plus One is an opportunity that students should consider even if it means sticking around for an extra year.

Aside from the obvious economic incentive, the scholarship offers students pursuing rigid courseloads, like the pre-med track or engineering, some additional flexibility. The College of Engineering usually assigns classes for their students, and pre-med students are required to take 11 classes just to prepare for the MCAT.

And for those in a less strictly defined academic path, the benefits are still enormous.

It is no surprise that students change their major after their first or second year of college. A change of major can involve some tough choices that may mean, for example, spending more time in school than students had expected and budgeted for.

Plus One has the potential to give these students a lifeline. They will be able to stay another year while they complete the track they want, better positioning themselves for their future careers without paying extra tuition.

However, Plus One does not mean people can fill their schedules with whatever courses they choose.

Applicants must submit a proposal accompanied by two letters of recommendation from faculty. This not only heightens the award’s prestige, but also makes students responsible for designing their undergraduate education in a meaningful way, expanding UM’s academic opportunities that can sometimes be cumbersome and limiting.

Plus One is really about integration. An additional year or semester means students can integrate knowledge from one field and apply it to another. An extra year means not forgoing the semester abroad in China or the Galapagos. An extra year ultimately means completing that senior thesis project.

Now, if only seniors could delay their graduation by an extra year, then Plus One would receive more applications than it probably anticipates.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

February 1, 2015

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