Alas, there really is no free lunch

In the current issue of our campus paper (here’s a .pdf), there’s an article about a local initiative to explore shifting more classes to a twice-a-week model, as a way to improve the use of classrooms, remove or ease various bottlenecks to graduation, and so forth. The reporter does a good job laying out the basic motivation for it. At some point, though, you’ve got to get the student reaction, which I’m only quoting because I’ve heard about 15 people say this, not to pick on the individual student.

“I choose not to have [three-day ] classes. It really could be a good thing because it could give students more time to study. College is stressful for us students and we need time off.”

Let’s pass by the tension between the last two sentences (“we need to study” vs. “we need time off”). Let’s even pass by the implication that students are the only ones stressed out by the semester.

It certainly is pretty to imagine that, if more classes shift to a twice-a-week format, more students will get a twice-a-week schedule. Look: there aren’t enough rooms to have more Tues/Thurs. classes, at least not during peak times. So, if we move MWF classes to twice-a-week formats, then what you’re going to get are TR classes, MW classes, MR classes, TF classes, and so forth. But I’d be very surprised if the result is, for most students, “more time off.”

(I’m a little stressed about this, since I like the MWF schedule–actually, my schedule is MWF+R: I usually teach a 3-hr course on Thursday nights so that I’m out of the house for this show.)

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