A late start helps higher ed students, faculty get ahead

Community colleges bet on a wide variety of scheduling options to attract and retain students whose lives are already filled by jobs and families.

Late-start courses that commence a few weeks after the semester begins are gaining popularity, as institutions discover this accelerated learning option supports both students and faculty.

At Roane State Community College in Tennessee, late-start classes serve unique student demographics, says Diana Ward, vice president for student learning. The 10-, seven- and five-week late-start courses offer “laser-focused” learning that works particularly well for students in the business and management schools, says Ward.

For adjuncts and faculty who lose classes due to low enrollment, school deans can create a late-start section to satisfy teaching credit requirements.

The college doesn’t allow anyone to join a class after the first day, but this option lets students maintain a full credit load if they choose to drop a course.

There is a four-week registration period at the beginning of the semester for accelerated offerings such as lower-level math, speech and general ed classes.

Students at Glendale Community College in California who are looking to accelerate into the workforce benefit from late-start classes, says Scott Schultz, dean of instruction.

The schedule provides the opportunity to complete multiple classes in successive, eight-week sessions to obtain industry credentials and stackable certificates as they work on their associate degree or a transfer program.

While the quickened pace may please students, accrediting agencies such as the American Bar Association have been critical of condensed learning schedules.

A hybrid of virtual and classroom learning helps Roane State to gain approvals.

Glendale promotes the rigorous content loads in late-start classes and stresses time management to students who enroll, says Schultz.

Late-start courses also serve as enrichment opportunities for faculty. Roane State President Chris Whaley doesn’t charge for the accelerated political science course he teaches, and Ward volunteers to lead an education psychology course each semester. 


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