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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA weighs changes to academic calendar

Potential changes to the UA’s academic calendar may give students a break during the fall semester and offer more scheduling flexibility.

According to Patti King, the director of curricular affairs, the UA has established a task force to investigate the pros and cons of adding a fall break and 7 1/2-week-long sessions to each semester. In this case, a fall break would be added to give students time to regroup after the first half-session before moving on to the next.

This coming spring, ASU will implement a new academic calendar. It includes the addition of two sessions, each 7 1/2 weeks, which will be offered concurrently with the regular 15-week semester. During the fall, a 2-day break, or a 4-day weekend, will separate the two half-semester sessions.

Brizza Contreras, a freshman studying pre-family studies and human development, said she would take cuts to winter and summer breaks if it meant getting some time off during the fall.

“We need a break,” she said. “Some students need to catch up with, you know, schoolwork. They have little time to be with their family and do homework.”

Irvin Polanco, a freshman studying psychology and pre-physiology, said the spring semester has more breaks, which makes his workload more manageable. Having time off during the fall would help him perform better academically, he said.

According to Davi Vitela, a graduate student studying speech, language and hearing sciences, students miss classes to go home toward the end of the fall semester while instructors continue classes. Vitela teaches a speech and hearing course, and has chosen to cancel several classes because she knows attendance will be low. Vitela said having some sort of break during the fall semester, perhaps even an entire week off for Thanksgiving, would ensure that instructors didn’t waste time preparing lectures for empty classrooms.

“From the teaching perspective, it makes a little bit of sense because you can feel that nobody’s here,” she said.

ASU’s changes are meant to provide more flexibility during the academic year and accommodate a greater number of nontraditional students. Many of the classes during the half-semester sessions will be held online.

For students who take classes during the summer, the new schedule extends summer sessions to take some of the rush out of the courses. Now, students can enroll in 6-week or 8-week summer sessions. Winter session courses, however, will no longer be offered.

The UA task force is conducting research among instructors and students to determine both the benefits and the feasibility of offering a schedule similar to ASU’s. It is also considering how the change would affect students in terms of maintaining full-time enrollment and financial aid, King said.

The task force will submit the results of its research in early December. King said that whether or not the UA decides to follow ASU’s example, changes to its academic calendar are underway.

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