Move to 16-week schedule provides shorter semesters, long winter intersession

By Andrew Weedon, Scene Editor

The new 16-week compressed calendar semester is here as students and faculty have adjusted their internal clocks for a shorter semester and longer classes.
The Contra Costa Community College District has been working on implementing this kind of block schedule for more than a decade, and in doing so now have a calendar that mimics most colleges and universities in the U.S.
A proposal to compress the district calendar was almost put in place for the fall semester of 2016, but a decision was made to hold off until a greater consensus could be reached.
Previously the schedule lasted 18 weeks, but starting this semester it will be reduced to 16.
One of the benefits of implementing this new calendar is that CCC will now have more time to offer online classes during a winter intersession between the fall and spring semesters.
Students participating in these classes will get one week of vacation, then be able to take online classes from Jan. 2-22 with the spring semester beginning on Jan. 28.
Fears that spring break would be eliminated were calmed with the assurance that it would remain on the schedule.
“Research shows that the compressed calendar translates into an increase in student success,” Academic Senate President Beth Goehring said.
Goehring is also on the United Faculty Executive Board, which played a lead role in creating and implementing the new 16-week semester. The UF is the negotiating body for all district faculty.
As a result of this new calendar, a number of changes have had to be made.
One is that physical education courses for Middle College High School students have been negatively affected and cannot be offered on a MWF basis due to release time issues, Goehring said.
A positive side effect of the new calendar the college couldn’t anticipate was an increase in enrollment, Senior Dean of Instruction Tish Young said.
“Students now have more time between the summer and fall semesters to register for courses and decide what they want to do,” she said.
The increase in student registration has also come with an increase in foot traffic on campus, Young said.
Bringing a compressed calendar to CCC was a lengthy process that was the topic at many committee meetings over more than 10 years.
When the UF was working on creating the new calendar, it sent out literature to all district faculty and allowed them to vote for, against or for modification, Goehring said.
Young said, “There haven’t been any complaints yet, but we are only at the start of the semester.”
The only issue so far seems to be that sports such as football, volleyball and soccer may be negatively affected by having to start practice prior to the beginning of the semester, Goehring said.
Adjusting to the compressed calendar has already delivered unexpected problems to the football program and altered the way coaches prepare for the season.
“I definitely prefer the accelerated courses. Even though the classes are a bit longer, I get to be in class fewer days, which is better for me,” undecided major Quentin Levin said.
There are still some areas that will need some adjusting such as the nursing and science programs,