With the end of the semester coming up quickly, it feels as though this semester has just flown by. Part of this may have to do with the fact that we just don’t spend that much time in our classes.
The Mills College academic semester is 14 weeks long, with each class meeting for 2.5 hours per week. That means each semester we spend just 35 hours in class. The allotted hours are not enough time to really get into depth on a subject before the week is over. It is not enough time to get to know our classmates and our professors.
UC Berkeley students spend three hours in class each week per class for 15 weeks. That’s 45 hours of instruction, not counting discussion sections. Our professors are highly established academic professionals from whom we can learn a lot on their subjects of expertise if given the opportunity.
Yet, with only 35 hours of instruction, it seems like maybe we are doing more work outside of class than inside with our professors. If in-class time with professors was not important, we would all do an independent study degree program, or computer-based learning. There are things that can only be achieved in class.
Often, there is not enough time to go over assigned readings. Student questions are left unanswered and areas of inquiry are not fully explored. Although professors are always willing to make office time for any student who many have questions, class discussions add a dynamic that enables everyone to explore different answers and opinions. Despite restructuring the academic calendar, we still don’t spend enough time in class.
Most importantly, for the amount of money we pay for tuition, it would only make sense to have more class time. For private school tuition, students should not only be awarded small, intimate classes but students should also be given more time in them.
We can prepare for classes outside by doing all of our reading and homework and papers to cut down on “wasted” class time, but we cannot change the simple fact that for $3400 per unit, we receive 35 hours of our professors time.