BY MELISSA DELLACATO
Editor in Chief
County College of Morris is offering students unique and non-traditional scheduling options starting in the fall 2014 semester. With more flexible term schedules, students may be able to finish their program faster.
“We wanted to give students a variety of options in taking classes,” said Dr. Bette Simmons, vice president of student development & enrollment management. “I think they’re going to love taking more credits and accelerating their college completion.”
At this point, mostly developmental classes are offered in these forms. For example, a student can take developmental English in the early 5-week session and then take English Composition I in the same semester.
“I think students will be much happier,” Simmons said.
The new scheduling options include terms of two, five, eight, 10 and 14 weeks, in addition to the traditional 16-week term.
In the 5-week early term, developmental English is offered. To accommodate for the shortened term, classes meet three days a week and are only 1.5 credits. The classes in the 10-week term meet three days a week, as well.
The 8-week terms are offered for more regular classes, such as Principles of Accounting I, Investment Principles and Introduction to Engineering, according to WebAdvisor.
The newest addition is the 14-week term. In the end of August and the beginning of September, many students sign up for classes late, according to Simmons. There’s a “good number of students” who go off to four-year institutions, realize they don’t like it there, and come back wanting to enroll at CCM, only to discover that they are too late for registration and classes have already started. The 14-week term starts two weeks after the beginning of the semester to help these types of students.
“We don’t want to turn students away,” Simmons said.
Based on the large amount of current students who have already registered for fall classes, Simmons doesn’t believe that students will take advantage of this new option and procrastinate their registration simply because they know they can take a 14-week class instead.
“Students know how important registration is,” she said.
Simmons said the two reasons for the addition of flexible scheduling is because of the amount of students who were coming in late and the number of students who needed remediation courses.
Other schools that are already doing this include: Camden County College and Burlington County College, according to Simmons. Executives at CCM spoke to representatives of these schools to help in the process of making these schedule changes.
Brian McGrath, a 25-year-old criminal justice major, is graduating in May, so he will not be able to experience one of these courses. However, he does think it’s a good idea and that it will “save some time.”
He said that if he had the opportunity, he would have taken one of those classes.
“My time management is very strict, so the more I can dish out, the better,” he said.
He believes that the initiative will likely be a success because “Those who choose to do it won’t have a problem with it, and those who would, won’t do it anyway.”
Catherine Chambers, professor of mathematics, said that the addition of new term options is a “good idea because it gives students more options.” It allows students who can handle the shorter time period to finish faster.
Chambers believes that no matter how long or short the course may be, a good teacher can adapt.
“A teacher is able to teach,” she said. “It’s the skill of the student who determines whether [the class] can move fast or slow.”
Chambers said these shorter classes will probably be treated like summer classes with regards to the pace of the course. She said she taught a one-week class in the summer and it “worked out great.”
“The students like the pace,” Chambers said. “It makes the time go quicker.”
Business Administration Professor Patricia Bernson said, despite the fact that CCM is introducing these terms of varied lengths now, she has been teaching 8-week classes for approximately nine years already. The difference is that it wasn’t a college-wide initiative.
The classes she taught were a part of the fast track program at CCM which started in fall 2005 at the Morristown campus, according to Bernson. The program was meant to offer certificates in business in an accelerated period. Since the certificate was 12 credits, students could achieve the certificate in one academic year by taking the 8-week courses that were taught in the evenings.
“The students who understand the accelerated workload do fine,” she said. “It’s a good idea for the right students, but I don’t think it’s a good idea for every student.”
Bernson said she likes that CCM is offering flexible schedules and that students who can handle it have the option. The only concern she has is that there are students who may sign up that have no idea what they’re getting into with regards to the workload.
In the fall 2014 semester, Bernson will be teaching Investment Principles as an early 8 weeks hybrid course, a course she is also currently teaching. She said she has taught this as an 8-week course at least once a year.
“To me, nothing has changed,” she said. “It’s what I’ve been doing.”
When it comes to the shortened classes she teaches, she said some students think it’s great, while others “want more time to absorb the information.”
“It’s challenging for faculty as well as students,” she said. “The time in class becomes very valuable and structured.”