The end of the fall semester is a stressful time for students, a problem exacerbated by the long semester. Thanksgiving break makes them relax and yearn for the end. When it’s darker sooner and longer, everyone just wants to sleep. When December rolls around and students who feel like they should be almost across the finish line realize they still have three weeks left, they despair. Santa Rosa Junior College’s current 17.5 week semester is too long. Students and faculty lose focus and we all lose out on our education.
The Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges has shown that students retain information better when semesters are shorter. Shortening the semester to 16 weeks would allow for a longer, more complete summer session and the addition of a winter session, both of which would grant students more opportunities to get the classes they need to transfer. The compressed calendar would also reincorporate finals into the regular class schedule, putting an end to the irregular hours and additional stress of finals week.
On the upside, staff pay would not be reduced, and overall class hours would not be cut. Classes would be slightly longer each day, allowing teachers to preserve the integrity of their courses. Fifty-four of California’s 112 community colleges have switched to a compressed calendar and not one has filed to return to the longer semester.
The compressed calendar would also align SRJC with many universities in the CSU and UC systems, creating a more cohesive community of California students.
On the downside, the shortened calendar could create problems for lab and agricultural classes, since labs are often conducted at a rate of one per week and agricultural classes rely on seasonal, naturally occurring events. However, it’s a small price to pay for the advancement of our education and the mental well being of our students and faculty.