Tech students received an email from the Registrar’s office in March informing them of the “new standardized time slots and minor changes to our academic calendar,” beginning this fall.
“One week was added to the calendar—from 14 weeks to 15 weeks,” Karen Lykins, Chief Information Officer, said.
This fall, classes will start on Thursday, August 19, and will end on Wednesday, December 8, with graduation on Saturday, December 18 – exactly one week before Christmas. Spring classes begin Monday, January 10, 2022.
Time slot changes include going from a 55 minutes class to a 50 minutes class on Monday, Wednesday and Friday classes. Monday-Wednesday and Tuesday-Thursday classes go from 80 minutes classes to 75 minutes classes. The one night, weekly evening classes are 150 minutes with no change.
These new course schedule time slots and calendar dates are a result of recommendations made by the Course Scheduling Committee and the Calendar Committee in 2019, according to the email from the Registrar’s office.
“One goal of both committees was to streamline the start and stop times in order to alleviate major scheduling issues and also to open up space for courses to be offered across campus. We cut the number of start and stop times from 200+ down to approximately 25 unique start and stop times. This created much more clarity in student scheduling and more flexibility around how the space is utilized,” Lykins said.
“Some classes’ start and stop times did not align with other classes, creating conflicts in the schedule,” Lykins said. “We had fielded complaints about this from students and faculty. One of our primary goals was to minimize these types of conflicts in scheduling courses to give students more options.”
The number of minutes a student attends class in a given semester is the same and is regulated by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. These scheduling changes did not increase the number of minutes a student attends class.
Lykins said she doesn’t think adding 5 calendar days will be a deterrent to prospective students because the overall time in class is the same.
While the changes may be necessary, the timing of announcement of the changes left some people upset. The announcement came on Monday, March 29, one week before registration for the summer and fall semesters. At this point, many students had already lined up internships and jobs for the summer, and booked vacations for what they thought was the week after graduation in December.
“The only reason I’m a little upset about the earlier start date this year is that I have to cut my summer internship by three days,” Daniel Augustus, a junior English major, said. “I only have a one day turn around from when my internship ends and when I have to be back at Tech.”
“There is a tremendous amount of planning and an approval process that must be in place in order to make changes like this. We have faced challenges in classroom space and scheduling for a number of years. This modification to the schedule and the start and stop times resolved a number of those challenges,” Lykins said.
This fall, Tech will be using a 50% room capacity utilization to allow for social distancing. Classroom utilization will be very high this fall. With the new calendar/schedule format, Tech will be able to fit more courses into existing classroom spaces, thus being able to offer more in-person courses.
The modifications will allow departments to offer more sections of classes. Due to COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines, more sections are needed; the new schedule will allow more flexibility in meeting the scheduling needs of students.
“More sections of courses are offered. Now, due to the streamlined start and stop times, five or six classes may be offered in that same classroom on a given day,” Lykins said. “Additionally, students voiced their desire to have less down time between classes in order to customize their schedules around their work or other extracurricular activities; the new schedule has fewer overlapping courses which allows for more scheduling opportunities.”
“I am really excited to see how the new semester will be with these schedule changes,” Grace Durham, a sophomore nursing major, said.
There will be a large number of classes on ground this fall. Over the next few semesters, Tech plans to transition back to the pre-COVID operating schedule.
There were over 25 departments represented on the two committees. They were made up of people who were either appointed or in other cases, individuals who came forward and volunteered to serve on the committees.
The committees met with groups of students, such as attending SGA meetings and asking for feedback on the plans. The committees also conducted surveys of students around this topic.