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?