Saturday, February 16, 2008

A small pet peeve

A small pet peeve

I used to think it was SLAC -- the academic calendar is often hard to find, and we're lucky if it's set 6 months in advance. SLAC drives me crazy with its tendency for last-minute planning -- rooms not assigned until the week before classes start, finals schedules that make no sense, especially when there are often grades due before finals are given ...

I just looked at LDW's schedule, though -- or tried to. He teaches at a reasonably prestigious uni. There's no academic calendar at all. They've gone to a monthly calendar, and there are no dates set for the beginning of the fall semester. I'm annoyed, because long-distance relationships are hard enough. But I know that both SLAC and Prestigious Uni are enrolling more and more non-traditional (e.g., working) students. They are also both trying to deal with enrollment problems, in that they are chasing enrollments. I was a working student for much of my academic life. I never had to pay tuition and fees, but I had to live (the grad fellowship was not enough to live on, partially because Grad U housing cost half of my stipend ...).

Attention, you silly institutions! When you are trying to attract and cater to a non-traditional demographic, it isn't *just* about offering evening classes. Working people need to be able to plan their work schedules (and sometimes, babysitting schedules) so that they can both keep their jobs and do well in their courses. They need to know the exam schedules well in advance, because the kinds of jobs students usually hold are not particularly flexible. And if that helps poor faculty fools whose relationships stretch over time zones and miles, that's not a bad thing, either.


meg said...

That's just plain insane in the membrane. At U. Topia, I can get the academic calendar up through AY 2009-10 online, including finals schedule.

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

Yeah, that's what I was thinking - here we plan out everything at least a year in advance, classrooms and all. Sometimes that can be kind of a pain in the neck, but now I'll know to appreciate it more. It also is a major help with long-term planning, as in the case of a new course that went up for approval from a committee I'm on. The department proposing the course said that they could add it because the plans for a building currently being renovated included a space dedicated to that department that would allow them to begin teaching this particular course a year from now. Not knowing those plans would have been a serious obstacle for everyone.

Kelly in Kansas said...

Our calendar has become easier to find - especially once you figure out the registrar is ultimately responsible for "releasing" the calendar. Having said that, most college and university websites are more geared toward inside administration instead of what potential users want and/or need. I resigned from being our department webmaster an they've reverted to the "let's put a picture of the building on our front page" - as if that is of any concern to students who want to know when and where classes are.

As for long-term planning, that's important for all the reasons you cite. However, there needs to be at least some flexibility built in. We've had a more than interesting time trying to offer grant-related graduate courses based on teacher (user) demand that they may not know more than a few months ahead of time. And, given that most of those courses are online and/or off campus, there's not the physical facilities component of the planning ahead. I can say they are on the radar but can't always give specifics.

My guess is that someone at both institutions know but it's not public information.

Terminal Degree said...

Our calendar for 2008-2009 was just set last month. Until then I didn't even know the start date. And no one knew, not even the registrar, because the Committee of Something Important hadn't set the dates yet. Drives me crazy.

I am so jealous of places that have the schedule set through 2010.