Each and every semester, amongst the classes available for students, a handful of are held in the evening from 7 to 9:50 p.m. These classes are suitable for those who work during the day, or for those who would prefer to meet for a class only once during the week.
Every once in awhile, an instructor may or may not end class early. Often times, a choice is presented to students; take a 20-minute break and leave at 9:50, or disregard the break(s) and leave “early” at 9:30. However, in spite of the mandatory break, classes are still known to occasionally end short of 9:50 p.m. When asked about their preference, some students enjoyed the novelty of leaving class early most nights.
“Early! I’m tired,” exclaimed student Mike Ricardo. “I’m in class until 9:50? Ugh.”
Former student Shafeel Koya stated that during his entire time at LMC, late classes never finished at the scheduled 9:50 p.m. time.
“The latest I probably stayed was until 9:00. Most people didn’t want to be there, and just left during the break. It’s your education; no one is forcing you to stay there.” UC Davis student Tyson Rochelle, while realizing the importance of the class, still would “love it if they would let out early every time.”
“These classes definitely have a purpose, they’re just once a week,” said Tyson. “So you can get it over with in one day, and have more time to study and do other things.”
Despite reports and opinions of class preferring to end prematurely, other students see the importance of remaining for the entire class because there is so much to learn.
“I don’t see anything wrong with it,” said student Bryttni Atilano. “If it was a science class, there is just so much to learn. The instructor has a lot to teach. If students don’t like staying until 9:50, then why sign up for the class?”
A typical community college semester is between 17 to 18 weeks long. A standard three-unit class is 54 hours a semester. One unit equals one academic hour (50 minutes), meaning that a 7:00-9:50 class, which equals 170 “clock” minutes and brings the class to 150 minutes of “real clock” time. Law requires a 20-minute break be provided, in the form of a single break, or two ten-minute breaks.
The concern is despite the mandatory breaks, classes still end prematurely. Hypothetically, if classes end another 20 minutes early, that is 20 minutes of instruction lost.
It may not seem like much, but when multiplied by 18 weeks, that equals 360 minutes, which equals six clock hours, which when broken down, equals over seven semester hours—two to three weeks of instruction. In other words, if students lose two to three weeks of instruction, out of an 18 week semester, they are potentially missing up to one-sixth of a semester, despite paying for a full semester’s worth of instruction.
“The courses are designed with the certain number of hours the departments come up with,” said Interim Dean of Liberal Arts & Sciences A’kilah Moore. “It was designed that way because the department felt that is the amount of time needed to teach the course. If all that time is not utilized, then something is obviously not right in that system.”
The money aspect also plays a part.
“You’re paying for the class and for what you want to learn,” said English Major Eric Cervantes. “If you want to leave early, that is your money, and that’s totally up to you.”
Moore added that simply reducing the class units because the class is not using the allotted time is not an option.
“You can’t just reduce units for a class,” said Moore. “There is a process that it must go through, and the instructors and departments must agree upon it first.”
Instructors widely agree that since tuition fees are unlikely to fall anytime soon, cutting class short is not a viable option and is cheating students out of their education.
“If I did cut class short, I had to make it up during the next class,” said Merritt College Radiologic Science Instructor Anna Balsley. “It’s a disservice to the student. They’re paying for the class, yet there is so much to learn.”
Math Professor Tue Rust summed up his own views about the importance of making full use of class time.
“I believe that we as instructors are being paid for that time, so we need to utilize that time. I can understand that if they let class out early to focus on a few struggling students,” said Rust. “But if it’s a consistent thing, then it’s a violation of the contract, because we are supposed to be creating more time and space for students to learn.”