LMC crunched for time

Leticia Robles, Staff Writer

If you haven’t noticed yet, Los Medanos College has a new school calendar change. Within this change comes a new system which shortens each school semester from 18 weeks, to 16 weeks.

“The change to a compressed calendar offers opportunities for the district to create additional intercessions, such as a winter intersession, and better support students towards their educational goals,” explained Vice President of Instruction and Student Services, Kevin Horan.

Horan continued, “Institutions that had previously changed to a compressed calendar format experienced increases in student retention and completion.”

In order to maintain the 54 hours per unit required of all community college courses by California state law, class times are longer and begin at unusual times. There is more pressure on students to get through classes faster and teachers are pressured to cram in more instruction due to the shortened semester.

Professors were notified of this calendar change and began to reassess their curriculum for the new time limitations. Biology Professor, Robert Heischman views this change as something different, but not necessarily a bad thing.

“The calendar change is different, it’s something that made us teachers asses what’s most important. Class times are about the same but holidays affect us more, losing more time,” Heischman explains.

Professors who teach only one day a week, typically Mondays or Fridays, are affected more when there is a holiday, making professors scramble and fit in a lecture on the next class visit.

“Ten to 15 minutes add up, especially two class meetings a week. One class may be three hours because of the calendar change, which I see is losing students’ concentrations, even with little breaks.” However, Heischman also explained the calendar change is not all negative.

“One cool thing about it is by having short semesters, we can add a winter term, like a summer term, which… gets students to graduation faster,” Heischman said.  

Some students view the new calendar change as a bad thing while others appreciate the two weeks off.

Returning student, Valeria Rico, believes having a compressed calendar is not good for LMC.

“I think the new calendar system is bad… I now have 18 weeks worth of lab hours and homework turning into 16 weeks,” Rico said. “Even though a two week difference may not seem like a big deal, work piles up and it’s harder being a full time student.”

The change also significantly affects graduating students, who will be experiencing a two-week scheduling change in their college careers. All of the work being done in shorter time will have students entering and exiting Los Medanos College faster, hopefully resulting in a better educational career in the long run.

As this is the first semester LMC is implementing the new 16 week academic calendar, the school district will use this compressed semester to observe potential changes in student learning and completion.  

“All staff worked on adapting courses and services to fit within the new compressed calendar. We will know much more about where we need to improve and what successes it helps to support,” Horan said.

Other school districts have already converted to the 16 week calendar and are getting positive results. Los Medanos hopes the students will benefit from this change and encourage further investment into a potential winter intersession.

Classes began Aug. 27, and will be ending Dec. 16 for winter break.