Menu
Jump to content

What's with the ads?

Momto6inIN

What is the Hive's opinion on 8 week college courses?

Recommended Posts

My DS is currently finishing his first CC course, Business 101. They offered a few full 16 week options but none of them fit into his schedule so he took a chance on an 8 week course. His DE counselor said they are really pushing this type of condensed course but didn't say why. 

I see some advantages from a student's perspective. My DS has been super motivated by the intensity and has enjoyed spending several hours per day with this one course. And although he is only taking 1 DE course, I can see how a full time student concentrating on 2-3 courses at a time instead of 5-6 might be a good thing. 

But the disadvantage I've seen so far is that this is a LOT of work to cram into 8 weeks! Quizzes, tests, weekly essays, and a big final project that they were given 2 weeks to complete whereas in the 16 week course they get 8 weeks for the project! His professor said that in order to get all the content in during those 8 weeks the project time needed to be quite a bit less.

I just wondered if anybody else - student or professor - could offer their perspective on this type of class. Is this just what the college of the future will look like?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think it's the future. There have always been summer classes. At dd's CC, they are 6 week classes and usually require about 3 hours of work/day. She's taken both of her English composition classes in the summer session and did have to write the papers in one or two weeks instead of 4 or 8 weeks. On the other hand, she could concentrate more fully on the writing process since she only had that one class.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don’t think it’s a good idea for the regular school year nor do i think it’s the wave of the future. If you get sick or miss even one class it’s an astronomical problem. And for classes that involve math, where things need to sink in, I think that the brain often just can’t put that into long term memory the way a longer course can .:.and of course you have less time for each concept to sink in, so getting lost is more likely. 
 

I’m sure there is a time and a place but I wouldn’t encourage my dc to take too many of these types of courses if at all. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's hard. DD did a summer program that was 2 university classes in a 3 week session-6 hours in class a day, plus tons of homework and far too little sleep. She did well in the classes, but the cost physically and emotionally was high. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DD 1 took a few in college, but they were all electives and weren't very difficult at all. DD 2 took several core classes last year and far preferred them to the 16-wk courses. I've found that the requirements vary wildly. Some are exact duplicates of the 16-wk course but in half the time, while others are less work all together.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My whole college experience was on the block plan with each class lasting 3 1/2 weeks. I absolutely loved it, and I’m not sure my husband could have very successfully majored in chemistry and art while also doing premed classes under a different system. He loved being able to actually concentrate on art when he was in an art class, and not having to worry about an organic chemistry or physics exam the next day when he was up all night babysitting a kiln. It was also great for internships and study abroad, as you didn’t have to go for a whole semester or year. He did an amazing one month pottery class in Mexico.

Since my college had nine blocks per year and you only needed to average eight per year to graduate on time, if people got really sick, they could always take a block off. My husband has taken and/or taught on semesters, quarters, trimesters, summer sessions, and blocks and as a student, definitely liked blocks the best. While it was very intense and you really couldn’t procrastinate at all, it really was a great fit for both of us. Going to semesters for grad school afterwards seemed so easy.

Instead of having a long winter break and a spring break, we had two weeks off at the holidays and then 4 1/2 days off after each block with no spring break. I much preferred that to the long winter break during grad school and no other real (meaning no work hanging over your head) breaks.

 I didn’t start taking math until part way through my junior year because I was exempt from the math requirement, but then I got very into it due to a great prof, and was able to take many more math classes before graduation and later go to grad school for statistics. That would have been very difficult if not impossible to do and graduate in four years had I suddenly developed that passion on a semester system due to the sequential math requirements.

Edited by Frances
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All good thoughts so far, thanks!

I wonder why his DE counselor said they are trying to push towards these courses. Is there a cost benefit to the school? Or maybe they can admit more students this way and so generate more revenue?

I wish I wasn't so cynical in suspecting it all comes down to $$$ instead of educational best practices 😛

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, Momto6inIN said:

All good thoughts so far, thanks!

I wonder why his DE counselor said they are trying to push towards these courses. Is there a cost benefit to the school? Or maybe they can admit more students this way and so generate more revenue?

I wish I wasn't so cynical in suspecting it all comes down to $$$ instead of educational best practices 😛

For a CC where people not dropping out of a class due to work or child care commitments is key, shorter classes reduce the risk that something unexpected happens during the class. The shorter time frame means that you're lessening the risk of random events (car breaking down, kids getting sick and staying home all week, massive overtime at work) happening during the class. It might also be due to cash flow for students that have to pay for part or all of their classes. It's easier to come up with $300 every 8 weeks than the whole semester's tuition at once (although there are payment plans, so I think it's mainly the completion rate.)

  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Frances said:

My whole college experience was on the block plan with each class lasting 3 1/2 weeks. I absolutely loved it, and I’m not sure my husband could have very successfully majored in chemistry and art while also doing premed classes under a different system. He loved being able to actually concentrate on art when he was in an art class, and not having to worry about an organic chemistry or physics exam the next day when he was up all night babysitting a kiln. It was also great for internships and study abroad, as you didn’t have to go for a whole semester or year. He did an amazing one month pottery class in Mexico.

Since my college had nine blocks per year and you only needed to average eight per year to graduate on time, if people got really sick, they could always take a block off. My husband has taken and/or taught on semesters, quarters, trimesters, summer sessions, and blocks and as a student, definitely liked blocks the best. While it was very intense and you really couldn’t procrastinate at all, it really was a great fit for both of us. Going to semesters for grad school afterwards seemed so easy.

Instead of having a long winter break and a spring break, we had two weeks off at the holidays and then 4 1/2 days off after each block with no spring break. I much preferred that to the long winter break during grad school and no other real (meaning no work hanging over your head) breaks.

 I didn’t start taking math until part way through my junior year because I was exempt from the math requirement, but then I got very into it due to a great prof, and was able to take many more math classes before graduation and later go to grad school for statistics. That would have been very difficult if not impossible to do and graduate in four years had I suddenly developed that passion on a semester system due to the sequential math requirements.

Could you tell me what school works this way? I think my dd would really like it.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At my ds small LAC he has had more of these classes as an upperclassman. They are frequently business courses and I’ve had in mind that they facilitated older students returning to school with real jobs and families in the mix as well as upperclassmen with growing scheduling complications such as internships and other experiences. My ds works about 20 hours a week and it is easier only concentrating on fewer classes at a time.
 

I’m a bit of a skeptic though. It makes me nervous for younger students who sometimes take awhile to adjust and the course may be practically over before they realize how much they need to study. I also will admit that my opinion on block scheduling in brick and mortar high school is not high. I remain skeptical that the amount covered in a one semester high school class is equal to what is spread over a full year in that setting. But I do realize that colleges can do a better job with it.

My kids like it. My husband teaches physics online for a cc and he finds the summer session frustrating. Too many of his students get behind and just can’t catch up or have some other complication that the schedule just can’t absorb. So it is a mixed bag I think.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
27 minutes ago, chiguirre said:

Could you tell me what school works this way? I think my dd would really like it.

I'm not Frances, but I know there are a few that work like this. Cornell College in Iowa has One Course At A Time (4 blocks per semester). 18ish days per course.

Edited by RootAnn
  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thumbs up here. Two benefits --  office hours aren't as difficult to get to due to having less on the plate;  not as many other class projects demanding perfect executive function or the time suck of coordinating with difficult classmates. 

The downside: one must be prepared academically.  This is not the time to take a class such as Chem 1 or Bio for majors if you didn't have the high school honors version or the AP version.  You will burn the midnight oil or take a C.   I did take a programming class this way and it was bimodal...either you had the logic and math foundation or you didn't and you would be retaking as there was no way to gap fill that much.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, chiguirre said:

Could you tell me what school works this way? I think my dd would really like it.

Cornell College in IA and Colorado College in Colorado Springs. I think there is also a state school in Montana using the block plan.

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, HeighHo said:

Thumbs up here. Two benefits --  office hours aren't as difficult to get to due to having less on the plate;  not as many other class projects demanding perfect executive function or the time suck of coordinating with difficult classmates. 

The downside: one must be prepared academically.  This is not the time to take a class such as Chem 1 or Bio for majors if you didn't have the high school honors version or the AP version.  You will burn the midnight oil or take a C.   I did take a programming class this way and it was bimodal...either you had the logic and math foundation or you didn't and you would be retaking as there was no way to gap fill that much.

I agree with this. I would say that my undergrad likely had a higher than average rate of students changing away from STEM majors compared to other LACs. You do have to be able to pick up concepts very quickly. And the math department was notorious for always giving Monday exams, so during those classes, I never had a weekend. I will say though that it was great preparation for grad school and the two main jobs I’ve had in real life where the learning curve was very steep.

For both me and my husband, the luxury of being able to totally immerse ourselves in one subject more than made up for any of the downsides. But it is definitely not a good fit for everyone. And profs were almost always available after class for office hours because they were also only teaching one class. We developed very close relationships with our profs and several of them are still close friends. We were just back there this summer and stayed with one prof and spent a day with another. They have also been out here to visit us many times.

One other minor thing I really liked about it was that most classes started at the same time every day since each class had it’s own classroom, so generally your morning schedule didn’t change from day to day or term to term. I think this was much better for my sleep health. 

Edited by Frances
  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow that’s amazing and super interesting. If you take a block off because you’re sick you’d be dropping that class but you would have already registered for the next class....what happens then? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Calming Tea said:

Wow that’s amazing and super interesting. If you take a block off because you’re sick you’d be dropping that class but you would have already registered for the next class....what happens then? 

If you mean the next class in a sequence, then you would have to change it. There was the ability to change classes up to a few days into each block, and I successfully did it a few times for other reasons. I don’t recall any issues with ever getting the classes I wanted, but it was a long time ago.

But I will also note that people sometimes chose not to take say Calc I And Calc II back to back while others did. Personally, I generally preferred more variety and a break from the intensity of STEM classes, while I think my husband tended towards continuity and finishing two block STEM sequences before switching to something else.

I will say that no one at my college was working a job for twenty hours per week and there were no non traditional students working full time while going to school, as someone posted about above. It was a residential LAC and it was rare for anyone to have a job outside of work study. It was academically intense and not designed for someone trying to balance school, work, and family.

Edited by Frances
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, HeighHo said:

The downside: one must be prepared academically. 

Yes, I can totally see this! My DS was taking Business and that's an area of strength for him, so it worked out ok, but I'm glad we didn't sign him up for a math or foreign language or science class (not his strengths) this way!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, chiguirre said:

For a CC where people not dropping out of a class due to work or child care commitments is key, shorter classes reduce the risk that something unexpected happens during the class. The shorter time frame means that you're lessening the risk of random events (car breaking down, kids getting sick and staying home all week, massive overtime at work) happening during the class. It might also be due to cash flow for students that have to pay for part or all of their classes. It's easier to come up with $300 every 8 weeks than the whole semester's tuition at once (although there are payment plans, so I think it's mainly the completion rate.)

This makes sense to me, thanks! I wonder if it's more popular at CC's than traditional 4 year schools for these reasons?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All my son's major classes are online and 8 weeks. He hates it. That's how all the upper level BA classes are too. Even though staying would be the most cost effective solution he's planning his escape after getting his AS degree. He's failed a class because he was lost after the first week and by the time office hours were available he was too lost to catch up. He has to retake the class but  it's the last 8 weeks, same teacher, still online and the tutors we have found do not know the language well. So he's still in the same position as the first time, 

  • Sad 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Momto6inIN said:

This makes sense to me, thanks! I wonder if it's more popular at CC's than traditional 4 year schools for these reasons?

It’s my understanding that one reasons more schools don’t do it is due to the physical space needed. At my college, each class had its own dedicated classroom each block. I’m not sure how other school do it.

I don’t know if they are still doing it, but for some intro level classes, especially in STEM, they did pair courses and teach them over eight weeks. So for example, Calc I and Computer Science I were team taught by two professors over eight weeks.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My son’s in grad school at WPI; I know the undergrads there are in a 7 week schedule. I believe they take 3 classes at a time, and they’re very project oriented. It’s a great school, great first year retention rate, so there must be something worthwhile with it. I’d think it would be too stressful for many, but perfect for others. I consider so much of college to be dumbed down that I seriously doubt an 8 week semester to be the future, lol.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know there are some medical schools that use this system and my son has friends who have done post bac BSN programs that use blocks, although they are of varying length depending on the subject matter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My dd took an 8-week course - Art Appreciation and loved it. The teacher was quick with feedback so my dd could make adjustments and learn from her mistakes. So, just like so many things, I think it depends on the class and professor. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Frances said:

Cornell College in IA and Colorado College in Colorado Springs. I think there is also a state school in Montana using the block plan.

 

 

14 hours ago, Frances said:

Cornell College in IA and Colorado College in Colorado Springs. I think there is also a state school in Montana using the block plan.

 

University of Montana Western is the one in Montana. My friend's daughter is there. I think they are the only state school with that system. Low tuition cost there too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All undergraduate courses at my son's college were 7.5 weeks long.  They took three courses per half semester.  

It was an adjustment, but he did ok.  You just need to remember that getting behind by one week (or whatever) is equivalent to getting behind by two weeks, that you really do need to do double the amount of work outside of class (so 12-18 hours per week for a 3 unit course), and that it's important to get help if you have trouble ASAP because there is no time to wait around to see if things will get better.

All of my grad school classes used this schedule too, but those were scheduled one at a time so it wasn't as much of a logistical problem.  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think it's the best choice for most students, both for reasons of true understanding and long term memory and for practical reasons - even a short illness will put you far behind.  

On 10/17/2019 at 9:27 PM, lmrich said:

My dd took an 8-week course - Art Appreciation and loved it. The teacher was quick with feedback so my dd could make adjustments and learn from her mistakes. So, just like so many things, I think it depends on the class and professor. 

Yes, timely feedback would be crucial! 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/16/2019 at 9:03 PM, dmmetler said:

It's hard. DD did a summer program that was 2 university classes in a 3 week session-6 hours in class a day, plus tons of homework and far too little sleep. She did well in the classes, but the cost physically and emotionally was high. 

That sounds crazy. I’ve never actually heard of less than 3 1/2 weeks for a full, regular college course, so fitting two into three weeks sounds almost  impossible and a recipe for burnout. I know that at the state schools here, four weeks is the shortest time for summer classes, and others are taught over eight or ten weeks during the summer. But students are definitely advised not to take more than one per four week term.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, katilac said:

I don't think it's the best choice for most students, both for reasons of true understanding and long term memory and for practical reasons - even a short illness will put you far behind.  

Yes, timely feedback would be crucial! 

The long term memory and true understanding is interesting. I recall a psychology prof from a local university giving a talk at my college during my senior year, and he was using his research on learning in mice to explain how the block plan was not a good system for learning. I think one of the crucial points he missed was that learning during college does not only take place in classes. Students are learning in all different venues from sports to music to jobs to research, etc. Based on my and my husband’s experiences, neither of us found his predictions to be true. We were both extremely well prepared for grad and professional school and actually found the subject matter exams we had to take for admissions quite easy after modest review. I distinctly remember being very pleasant surprised at how quickly everything came back to me when I was reviewing for the Psych GRE, and my husband said the same thing about the MCAT. Plus, with the block plan, he had the luxury of taking a block off to prepare.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My husband’s school is this way — UMUC.  It is online.  It is great.  A lot of people cannot commit to a schedule more than 2 months in advance.  They might have something come up with work, and it makes it risky to commit to 4 months when something might keep them from finishing.  
 

I am pretty sure that full-time status — that a lot of people need for financial aid — can be reached with 2 8-week classes per session (and 2 fall and spring sessions plus 1 summer session) plus one or two summer session classes.  There are rolling start dates.

It makes it much easier to be at full-time status and still have some flexibility around work.  
 
He is in the military so often there will be a time where he wouldn’t be able to keep up with a class for a month.  Well — he can schedule around that.  The session start and end dates are flexible enough.  
 

It is also MUCH easier to get back to classes if you have to miss one session.  You can be back after 1-2 months.  
 

It is a lot harder to go back if you are out for 4-5 months.  I think people stay with it more easily when they have had to take a session off.  
 

Or if you want to go back — there will probably be a start date within a month or two.  

Edited by Lecka
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never heard of anyone taking more than 2 8-week sessions at the same time, as far as online at UMUC.  It is a popular school for active duty military.  

Edit:  for 30 hours in 12 months, you would need to take 2 classes in a summer session — these are also 8 weeks.  

Edited by Lecka

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The community college I teach for does a lot of 8-week classes, four sessions of 8-week classes in a 16-week semester. The whole motivation is flexibility. You get more students registering for that because life sometimes requires that people need a month or so with a lighter load or no classes. The reality of course is that the 16-week classes fill up first.

As an instructor, I'm fine with it. I of course have double the grading for one of those, but I get more sections that way too. Right now I have two 16-week classes, and three 8-week classes. One of the 16-week classes is very small as is one of the 8-week classes, so I have a full adjunct load of 12 credits.

I will say that more students fail the 8-week versus 16-week. It is a lot more homework than some can handle. I am working on a tech support certificate myself, and I've had three 8-week classes. I actually don't like them that concentrated, but it worked. One had an exam every other week and a group research paper, so it was way more work than I'd like. The others were more reasonable IMHO. I was busy, but felt like I was keeping up.

The 4-year my kids attend only does concentrated classes in the summer. My oldest was planning to do two 4-week classes this summer, but ended up with only one because the professor bailed at the last minute. He was very busy. And for some reason they charge way more in the summer. He had budgeted, figuring the regular tuition rate, but then the bill was way more. He had to borrow from me. So I don't think either of them will do another summer class.

Edited by G5052
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...