Weighing cost-benefit of eight-week classes

By ELIZABETH MOORE, Ranger Reporter:

Amarillo College is striving to boost student success by impelementing several accelerated eight-week semester classes.

By doing so, students are able to maintain full-time status by taking two classes at a time and still completing twelve-credit hours a semester.

“I think it’s great that we can offer eight-week courses,” said Jacqueline Llewellyn, instructor of speech. “Classes may be more accessible to people with challenging schedules outside of school.”

Chad Leavitt, a business management major, said, “I think it’s going to help students get their degree faster and hopefully raise the graduation rate.”

The eight-week long semesters takes the class and compresses the time frame down to half. Some studies have shown that student focus tends to drop around the ninth week of classes. Therefore, by only taking an eight week class, the focus stays strong.

“Students can still see completion relatively quickly,” said Pam George, student adviser. “It helps in our immediate oriented world–I want something and I want to see results now.”

While the shorter classes work well for students seeking to graduate faster, or students who struggle to balance school with the rest of their lives, there are also some drawbacks.

When a class is shortened to eight-weeks, it doesn’t necessarily mean half the work. Most professors, in order to help the students learning just as much as they would in a normal semester, won’t cut most of the assignments.

“Probably one of the biggest drawbacks is it’s so fast-paced, a lot of students don’t understand that it’s the same amount of work as the 16-week semester but in half of the time,” said George. “They think that it’s going to be easier when in reality it’s probably a little bit harder.”

Leavitt said that while it can help students graduate sooner, the eight-week semesters consist of a lot of work crammed into a smaller period of time.

“The workload required in an eight-week course could feel more challenging to students than the workload required during a 16-week course,” said Llewellyn. “You just have a shorter span of time to complete it all.”

In order to avoid falling behind, George suggested that students “get started right away, and find some system for organization and stay ahead or at least on top of everything.”

“Focus on time management. Know your deadlines, know what is expected of you, and make sure you give yourself the time you need to get things done. Don’t panic,” Llewellyn said.

Leavitt agrees with that advice. “Don’t procrastinate,” he said, noting “and I tend to do that, I kinda gotta preach to myself.”

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