Monday, January 23, 2006


College Hour

Both of the colleges at which I’ve managed have had pitched battles around ‘college hour.’ College hour is a class period when relatively few classes meet, preferably in the middle of the day in the middle of the week, set aside to allow student clubs to meet. Since students who get involved in clubs have higher retention rates than students who don't, we consider this important.

The battles over college hour are constant. Faculty want to be able to run classes then, since they’re always in the middle of prime time. Organizations want students available during college hour. Students generally want classes during college hour, since they seem to care much more about getting off campus at the earliest possible moment than about joining clubs. So we’re in the odd position of telling both faculty and students not to have classes at mutually convenient times, in the name of improving student retention.


Seems like there’s a flaw in here somewhere…

Since both of my employers have been commuter colleges, we couldn’t get around the issue by basing the extracurriculars in the dorms – we don’t (and didn’t) have dorms. Students commute from home, leaving as quickly as they can to get to jobs. By about 2:30, the place is pretty empty; by 4:00, you can bowl in the hallways safely. (It gets busy again around 6:00.)

In some ways, it would be easy simply to abandon the ‘college hour’ concept altogether. Class scheduling would certainly be easier, which is no small thing. But it would be nearly impossible to schedule department meetings before 4:00 (and nobody wants them after that), the clubs would almost certainly die, and there wouldn’t be any logical times to schedule Events (speakers, job fairs, etc.).

Has anyone out there found a reasonably workable solution to the college hour dilemma?

SNEPU has that, but only on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Not only do clubs and organizations meet at that time, but faculty also have their meetings then.

Maybe you don't have to have it *every* day, but rather two or three times a week. That way, you get the best of both worlds.

Could the college hour be during "bowling" time?
We dropped our "college hour" and have started running classes during that time.

It's a new thing for us, so I'm not sure how we'll handle it. We've also shortened our semesters to accommodate a winter intersession, so we'll have to see how it all plays out.

Personally, I hate meetings, and abandoning the college hour will, I believe, result in having to attend fewer meetings. Some people apparently feel compelled to have meetings when there is a designated window for them, even if there is really no significant reason to meet.

One of my coworkers has the following poster on his office wall:
We've talked about having a college hour so that we have a time slot for more community-building events. But the only way we could achieve a Wednesday afternoon college hour is to move some labs and studios to Saturday mornings. And no one wants that.

Right now, most student activities and community-building events take place in the evening but that's tough for anyonw who doesn't live on or near campus ....

In other words, we have not found a workable solution to this.
We are a community college without a college hour. What happens is that student groups do things over lunch time-- and make most of the events pretty casual, so that people can come and go as necessary.

As the first-ever debate coach there, scheduling meetings has been a hassle, but the students who want to participate make it work. Often they want to join mid-semester, and the best they can do is to change their schedule for the next semester to meet our times...

Frankly, if you have a college hour established -- I think you should keep it. The faculty and students have been dealing with it so far, and if you stop having it getting it established another time will be impossible.
No college hour at any of the Universities I've been to or taught at. It is an intriguing concept, though, since meeting are so tough to schedule when you don't have anything like that.

A long time ago I worked for a Student's Union as the coordinator of Student Groups and this would have been a god-send. The groups would have had more consistent times to meet and my meetings with them would have also been easier to schedule. I bet I would have had better attendence, too. But I can also see the drawbacks, especially for a commuter campus.
My community college has few or no classes on Friday afternoons at 2 and after. Maybe not so great for student meetngs, but this is when department meetings take place. Seems to me that Friday afternnon classes would be difficult and have poor attendance no matter what, so it is not a big loss.

So, we have classes in the morining and early pm that meet MWF and we have T, TH classes.

But afternoon and evening classes on MW meet ONLY then, in 75 minute (rather than 50-minute) blocks.
College professors can't be bothered to meet after 4 PM? WTF?? Man, that tenure stuff is totally out of hand. Wish I had a job with so much personal autonomy.
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After teaching from 9 to 3:30 (two tutorials back to back, 20 minutes to eat lunch while walking to my lecture theatre, lecture for 2 hours and then 1 hour of student conferences) every Friday for the last few years I refuse meetings after that on Fridays. I'm 'on' for that whole time with barely time to eat and go to the bathroom and I'd be useless as a decision-maker after that.
So... keeping college hour open makes it easier for students to participate in clubs, which is desirable because "students who get involved in clubs have higher retention rates than students who don't". Is that the argument in favour of college hour? If so, how do we know that participation in clubs is the cause, and tendency to stay at the school is the effect? (Instead of, eg., both being effects of some third factor.) Seems like a "correlation implies causation" fallacy here.
in the UK most universities have wed afternoons off for this very purpose, clubs and societies meetings and sport.

unforunately everyone with part time work, well, works.
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