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How many hrs/wk were/are your classes?

  1. Jun 7, 2008 #1
    When I was in high school I took 7 classes in a typical semester and each class met 50 minutes per day 5 days a week. We were punished rather harshly for tardiness and classes never dismissed early. Since college is supposedly the next step of the academic ladder, it would seem natural that classes would be longer. In fact, I found that the opposite is true. At my school, classes are either 50 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, Friday or 75 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday. And usually there are no recitations or anything else.

    I have recently become disgusted by the way my college allocates class time. So, basically we are in class 100 minutes fewer per week per class and if I take 6 classes (which is the maximum number I am allowed to take), about 7200 minutes fewer than in high school. This is an AWFUL pedagogical strategy as far as I am concerned. There is simply no replacement for being in a classroom where you can interact with a professor and other students, taking notes, asking questions, etc. I think what my university is doing is detrimental to my educational progress.

    This leaves students with incredible amounts of free time during the week. For many students, this is of course spent on alcohol, watching television, playing video games, obsessing about relationships, or other unproductive things. For me this becomes tons and tons of wasted hours struggling to self-study things and work out complicated math problems on my own. For all of us, this is HORRIBLE for the 8-10 hour jobs we might have in the real world.

    Furthermore, my parents pay massive amounts of money to my university, while my high school education was provided for free. So, it is kind of ironic how my high school education was so much more efficient.

    Anyway, everyone please comment liberally about this and share your own experiences.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 7, 2008 #2
    My high school uses a similar system, except for freshman. They have a thing called Freshman Academy that has on-campus lunch (you can't leave) and daily advisory for 30 minutes. For upperclassmen there is (I believe) advisory once a week. We also have early out every other Wednesday.
  4. Jun 7, 2008 #3


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    The education system is tailored to the age, and maturity of the students. In high school students are given so much contact time because they are at an age at which this is the way they learn best, but as you enter college, you are presumed to at least develop some academic maturity which enables you to learn without a professor, and to use other sources such as a textbook, as a source of knowledge. The idea, i would imagine, is to prepare students for the real world- in their job a manager is not going to hold their hand and sit with them all day, they will simply tell them to do something and then leave them to do it. If college were as close contact as high school, then a worker would just not be able to do this.
  5. Jun 7, 2008 #4
    That's a good point. I have noticed that there are far fewer examples presented in college courses which means that we are supposed to learn how to apply the theory to examples ourselves, which is a good plane

    However, I fear that the motivation for such short class periods at my school was less "idealistic".
  6. Jun 7, 2008 #5


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    From a purely logistical standpoint, college professors are expected to do a lot more things outside the class than high school teachers are - research and publishing and traveling to conferences and such. There is no way they'd be able to spend 30 hours a week in a classroom.

    To directly answer your question, I'm enrolled in 12 credits for the upcoming semester, divided between 6 hours Monday night and 6 hours Thursday night. It's a professional program, so I'm not doing any research (though there is a small research component later on), but I am expected to intern and I also teach.
  7. Jun 7, 2008 #6


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    I agree, that's the main part, you should be doing more learning outside the classroom when in college than in high school (there's a lot of hand-holding and spoon-feeding done in high school), which is why contact hours are fewer. You also don't get scheduled lunch or gym class in college, so there's time you spend doing things in high school that aren't really academic.

    Though, I attended a university where the standard class period was 80 minutes, and upper-level and graduate level lectures were often double periods (including the 20 min between classes, so you'd have a 3 hour class). Trust me, you don't want classes that long. Nobody has an attention span that long. The general rule of thumb when I was in college was that for every credit hour you took, you should spend 3-4 hours per week on the class, so if you took a minimal 12 credits, you were putting in approximately a 40 hour work week on classes divided between time actually spent in the classroom and doing assignments, reading, studying, homework, etc. outside the classroom (science majors rarely took as few as 12 credits, usually more like 18).
  8. Jun 7, 2008 #7
    I guess I should that there is one benefit of the short class periods (at least for me): it allows me to audit classes. I have audited two classes each of the past two semesters and that has worked out really nicely. I had enough free time to go to all the class sessions and at least attempt all of the homework and take all of the exams. But it was nice since, I could just ignore problems that I "didn't like" and I could focus more on actually understanding the material than getting an A. I would recommend that everyone with an strong affinity for academics try auditing classes. Its really fun...I only wish I had discovered it earlier.
  9. Jun 8, 2008 #8
    My high school had 5 classes a day (75min each, one is a lunch block) 5 days a week for 4 months.

    At university each of my classes are typically 3 x 50min lecture + 1 x 50min tutorial per week for about 13 weeks, which I find sufficient (though I have had professors who have a hard to going through all the material). My course load has varied from 3 courses (summer) to 5-6 courses (fall/spring). Depending on what class it is, sometimes I have a hard time staying awake.

    In first and even some second year courses it would be unreasonable to expect the same amount of one-on-one interaction as in high school simply due to the sheer number of students. How terrible it would be for a professor who has other things to do outside of teaching to hold 200 hands. For me, the number of students per class dropped dramatically in second year to about 20 per, and my own study habits changed similarly (it took me until university to open a textbook, and somewhere in second year to read the material). If somebody needs help they can always go to scheduled office hours or form study groups. Really, by the time you are in university and gotten through the first few semesters, you should have figured out an effective way of studying that should probably include a combination of self-study, interaction with classmates outside of lecture, or a stop at the professor's office. In my experience, professors are usually receptive to students who take the time outside of class to see them for help. Now I would hate to have to sit through as much class as high school, because I have grown to enjoy studying on my own, but that's just me!

    Aside from this, I don't see the hours spent working out difficult problems as 'wasted' simply because education is an investment in yourself, and presumably you want it.

    Also, high school education isn't really free. That's where taxes go!
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