On Academic Logistics

academic logistics

One grievance at the forefront of my experience at Maharishi University of Management (MUM) concerns the logistics of my academic path. MUM advertises and boasts the “Block System.” For those of us who are United States military veterans, and perhaps others, the block system is nothing new. It essentially means that a student approaches one course (class) at a time, unlike many traditional high schools and universities in which students are engrossed in multiple classes concurrently — often occurring on different days, times, and locations on the campus.

It’s a great system, the block system, if you want an in depth study of a particular subject. It’s different, but not inherently deficient.

What is deficient though are the logistics of course availability, alongside the injection of ancillary courses beyond the scope of a student’s major.

At MUM, most courses span a duration of four(4) weeks, averaging four(4) credits per course. The degree’s of my choosing required approximately 128 credits, give or take.
In the scope of this logic, fundamental mathematics suggests that a degree comprised of 128 credit hours should consume 128 weeks of study; just over 2.5 years to achieve if your motivated enough to take classes in the summer; There are two(2) blocks available in the summer.

However, in consultation with my academic adviser, I discovered an unfortunate limitation on which classes are available. This is largely due to the small population of students, approximately 1000 in number. For this reason, the classes that are available in particular blocks are dependent on how many students are in need of a particular class. Moreover, if a class is full, it’s no longer available to take, and subsequently the student is forced into a class outside of their major. Another cause for this phenomenon is the availability of professors. Some professors aren’t available year round, and they are the only professors who teach the class.

In all cases, taking classes that don’t count toward your major essentially consume more time from your life, more money from your bank account, more debt for student loans, and more undue stress in taking the unnecessary class.

Once enrolled, and moved to the town of Fairfield, I was told that my graduation date was going to be four(4) years from now during my academic consultation. When I objected to the notion, the response was along the lines of “Everyone knows that a Bachelors degree takes four years.” This subtle reality undermines any planning one might render, as it creates a 35% increase in resources needed to achieve the degree.

This adds insult to injury as the university accepted me just two(2) weeks before the semester initiated. It took every bit of this time to move my wife and I, and our household, approximately 500 miles from our hometown to Fairfield. I arrived about two weeks to late to take advantage of the fall semester, and thus sat dormant for nearly the entire first semester.

You would think that I would simply start class in the second block of the semester, however, MUM requires all students to take a course called STC108 as a prerequisite to all classes at the university. As you might guess, this course is only available the first block of each semester. Again, logistics of the academic structure cause further delay and cost in education to the student — moving expenses and one semester of living expenses in vein. It also created a hardship in trying to procure housing, as we had to compete for limited housing, signing into a lease early for fear of not having a place to live the second semester.

The notion of academic logistics can span beyond the circus of Maharishi University of Management when students attempt to transfer mid-education, or to pursue a higher degree. Take for example this 2013 Facebook status update by “MUM Secrets” where students submit anonymous “secrets” about their lives at MUM.

The secret reads:

I wish my school taught more cultural and humanities studies. I think people need to know more about sex, race, and language. It is so incredibly relevant, and is creating an imbalance in my education. I am applying to some grad schools that may not let me in because these things are missing from my degree. Can we hold back just a little on all the Vedic requirements and give people an actual education? Sure that stuff is great for those who want to study it. But to be forced to is really not right. I wished I had known more about all those requirements too before commiting so much time here. It’s like, the fine print they don’t want you to see as you’re signing up for your future. And that’s just how serious it is, it’s our futures.

Again, it’s the collateral damage that renders the most destruction, as a university is to prepare one for their future, rather than inhibit the future. Moreover, it is “… like that fine print they don’t want you to see …”. Because there isn’t any fine print, you don’t see it because they don’t say it — namely, a function of omission. They omit the do-what-ever-we-like-with-your-future modus operandi , and move to securing federal student aid to compensate for the inflated tuition cost.

In exchange for the $26,400.00 USD tuition, Maharishi University of Management runs some students through a gauntlet of unnecessary extraneous courses and “requirements” throughout what once was a relatively practical degree path. Then, for whatever reason, you part ways with the university to discover that the education you purchased lacks the necessary constitution to fulfill your future academic desires.