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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Who sets the academic calendar?

Whoever it is, at least at San Diego State, seems oblivious to the fact that starting on a different day of the week every semester is really annoying for those of us who try to organize our classes consistently. I am annoyed by this every semester because no matter what days of the week I'm teaching on, I have to adjust the deadlines for my class assignments every single time. For example, this fall, classes start on a Monday, so the first meeting of my Tuesday/Thursday classes is on Tuesday and we will meet twice that week. In the spring, even if I still had classes on Tuesday/Thursday, the first class meeting would be on Thursday and we would meet only once the first week. Since I try to assign larger assignments over the weekend, that means I have to re-arrange things somewhere to get back on the same day-of-the-week assignment schedule as what I did in the fall. When I taught the large lecture on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I tried to have exams on Fridays and every single semester, I had to make adjustments so I could still do that.

On top of that, I just realized that for some reason, the spring 2011 semester will be slightly longer than the fall 2010 semester. In the fall, my Tuesday/Thursday classes will meet 28 times (15 weeks, minus two classes canceled for Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving). If I were teaching Monday/Wednesday, we'd meet 29 times (Labor Day off instead of Veteran's Day but we could technically meet the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, though I probably wouldn't). But in the spring, my Monday/Wednesday classes will meet 30 times (Tuesday/Thursday classes also meet 30 times). I went back and looked at last year's calendar and Tuesday/Thursday classes met 31 times in the fall and 30 times in the spring while Monday/Wednesday classes met 30 times in the fall and 31 times in the spring. So maybe the shorter fall semester this year is just an anomaly but I wonder if anyone actually thought about this when setting the calendar.


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  2. So true, especially the different length of the semesters. Although we always start on a Monday. (When I was at Illinois State, the fall semester always started on a Wednesday and the spring semester always started on a Monday--which had the virtur of being consistent, anyway.)

    I teach at 1 of 6 regional campuses of Indiana University. We all have slightly different calendars (and different from Bloomington), which makes scheduling system-wide meetings interesting.

    I'm also in an area where there are two campuses of Purdue University; some of my students take classes at one of those places in addition to my place. We have different calendars (spring is the real problem, because of spring break). And many of my students have children whose public school spring breaks are (very) different from ours.

    Scheduling things, especially in the spring semester, can be a nightmare...

  3. Agreed! Those of us in system schools who attempt to standardize do have a difficult time managing staggered start times. I had thought that with so much moving online there would be a more efficient form of scheduling. Yet another reason to have more economists in administration. :)


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