Of course students don’t want another day of class when they’re used to three- or four-day weekends. As University administrators are now considering changing the schedule so that 75-minute Monday-Wednesday classes will become 50-minute Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes, the Fridays once reserved for hangover recovery may now be a thing of the past. The time spent post-Ybor on Thursdays may now be spent on postmodernism or psychology.
Like it or not, Friday classes are better for students.
This schedule setup is the norm at other State University System schools, and administrators hope the more efficient use of class buildings will garner additional funding for the University. If buildings are being used at 18.1 percent capacity on Fridays and 49 percent overall, USF is less likely to get state money for new buildings because it will be seen as unnecessary, so the reasoning goes.
Administrators also promise that a standardized class schedule can help students take the courses they need in order to graduate in four years. The lengthy graduation rates, in addition to spurring the notorious “U Stay Forever” moniker from USF’s initials, are a financial drain on the University. Poor graduation rates also fare poorly when it comes to measuring academic success.
Any suggestion of poor academics is likely to slow – if not entirely derail – USF’s aspiration to join the American Association of Universities. Membership to this select group of colleges and universities – and doing what it takes to get it – should be a goal of all students, as the accolade suggests academic competitiveness and excellence and hence is likely to increase the value of their degrees.
The need to use Fridays for work purposes is in some senses a compelling argument, but it neglects the fact that University coursework is a full-time job too, and should be treated accordingly. One cannot expect to succeed if reading, homework and test preparation become accents. And students shouldn’t settle for a job if their bosses are entirely unwilling to support their educational aspirations with flexible scheduling.
There is financial incentive to succeed in school that even outweighs work in some cases, as merit-based scholarships for incoming students, present students and prospective graduate students exist to reward academic performance. Need-based scholarships are tied to positive academic performance as well, so again the desire to treat school as a primary concern is thus justified.
Financial constrains may make work seem more important for some students who purely consider short-term factors, but students must recognize that they will be financially better off in the long run if they do well in school and graduate on time.
And a standardized schedule system, such as the one proposed, will help them do just that.