Sophomore Brad Van Kolden Hoven is taking 36 credit hours this semester.

Sophomore Brad Van Kolden Hoven is taking 36 credit hours this semester.

Sophomore Brad Van Kolden Hoven spent $3400 on books—for one semester. “The good news,” said the engineering and medieval studies major, “is I’ll only have to do this two more times.”

Van Kolden Hoven is taking advantage of a new effort from the Calvin registrar’s office to streamline the education process. Effective this spring, the registrar has removed the cap on the number of credit hours a student can take per semester.

“We are sensitive to rising tuition costs across the country,” said Calvin registrar Tom Steenwyk. “Calvin is staying abreast of the curve by making college more affordable, but only if our students can get through it more quickly.”

Previously students could only take up to 17 credits per semester. Now students are piling on as many they can handle. “It’s no longer necessary [for students] to be here for four years in order to graduate,” Steenwyk continued. “Now, they can speed out of here in one-and-a-half years if they really want to.”

Phasing out friends

It’s a challenge, said Van Kolden Hoven, who is taking 36 credit hours this semester:

“I've lost most of my friends, don’t remember much of what was taught and I think I've contracted ADHD. But at least I’m getting out of here in one third the time of my friends who went to Hope.”

Current Calvin tuition totals $25,340 and room and board costs an additional $8,760. Van Kolden Hoven estimates that his ambitious academic program has cut his college sticker cost in half.

“When you calculate the cost of tuition, books, dining, incidentals and Red Bull­—plus all those extra years I would’ve spent gaming­—I think I’ve saved a lot,” he said. (Van Kolden Hoven is set to graduate next spring, three years ahead of his older brother Stan).

Bogus diagnosis

Broene Counseling Center staff say they are already seeing more students suffering from what they are calling “academic overdosing.” (They are also seeing students for shorter visits, due to academic overscheduling).

“I saw a really exhausted kid for 10 minutes,” said long-time Broene Center counselor Dan Vandersteen. “I didn’t even catch his name.”

But, despite these early issues, Steenwyk defends the new program.

“I’ve heard it said that we are a ‘liberal arts college on steroids,’” he chuckled. “But I think it’s a great way to let students do it all. They can triple major in social work, engineering, throw in a little English lit and leave this place so well-rounded it hurts.”

This is nuts

“This is nuts,” said Vandersteen.

For more coverage, see News and Stories.

Buying books

Buying books

Sleeping off the Red Bull

Sleeping off the Red Bull

Recent stories