Students at UTC are being told to retake classes they may not need to repeat and, in some cases, fork over more money for the added courses.
Academic officials at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga said they won't tell all students that the grades now required in some classes aren't the ones agreed to when the students enrolled.
"That would be like yelling fire in a crowded theater," said UTC Provost Phil Oldham. "We discovered that exiting students weren't prepared for upper-level classes. Faculty studied it. A number of students were getting into upper-level classes and having to take them over and over and over."
But some parents are outraged. They say the administration is secretly tinkering with requirements, hoping students won't ask questions about it.
Two parents said their sons, both juniors who made C's in their entry-level accounting classes - the minimum requirement based on guidelines in the school course catalog - were told by their advisers that they would have to retake the classes to make a B.
One student retook the classes and the other was signed up to retake them. When the parents complained to the school, administrators told them that they would grant their sons waivers to allow them to go on to higher-level classes.
"It is very clear they are in violation of their printed materials," said Terry Bolton, a pastor in Sale Creek, whose son was told he had to repeat classes. "It is not only unfair to the students. It is also a financial burden on parents."
Geneen Bacon, a Nashville mother whose son attends UTC, said her son was told he would have to retake a class for a third time, even though he made the required grade the first time he took it.
University administrators told her that they wanted him to retake the classes till he got a B but admitted that it wasn't a requirement. Bacon has since asked for a refund for the class, and school officials told her they are looking into it.
"There are kids in spring classes that don't need to be there," said Bacon.
Oldham said he's not sure how many other students could be affected. When new requirements are established, students are suppose to be grandfathered in, but he said he thinks the students should retake the classes to ensure they have mastered the material.
Research conducted with graduates of the accounting program and the failure rate in upper level classes showed that many students who got a C in those classes couldn't make the cut later, Oldham said.
"A lot of our issues with retention and graduation rate are because students are making poor choices," said Oldham.
Still, parents said students should be told they have a choice.
The last day to drop a class without penalty is Sunday.
"You never know when a kid is floundering through school and then it clicks from one semester to the next," said Bolton. "To hold kids back on the presumption that they might not make the grade on the next level is absurd."