How Midnight Classes Can Benefit UVU
It’s midnight on a Monday. While the rest of the world slumbers peacefully, a cabal of nine assembles in a dark, otherwise empty building. There, under the tutelage of an experienced master, they will hone new skills and learn new crafts. They will soon unleash their new knowledge upon the rest of humanity. That is, if they can memorize all the vocabulary terms before the final.
Almost sounds like a satanic cult out of some grainy exploitation film, right? But, actually, the purpose for this group’s meeting is nothing even remotely diabolical. No need for alarm, kids. The aforementioned cabal is nothing more than a group of students taking a late-night Intro to Psychology course.
In 2009, Bunker Hill Community College in Boston was a lot like our campus here at UVU. The college was built to accommodate a scant 2,500 students. But faculty at Bunker Hill found themselves inundated with 13,000 enrollees, all attempting to make do with the space they had. This would be akin to stuffing UVU’s 32,670 matriculates into the UCCU Center and making them all take a calculus quiz.
But faculty at Bunker Hill had an innovative notion – one that would come relieve some of that student density and keep the community college’s walls from bowing outwards. Bunker Hill started offering late night classes.
Like, really late at night.
This semester, Bunker Hill Community College offers four different “Midnight” courses that start at 11:45 p.m. and end at 2:30 a.m. Third shift workers, insomniacs and stay-at-home moms can take College Writing, Fundamentals of Algebra and two different psychology courses at a time when most people are vegging out in front of Jimmy Fallon, if they’re awake at all. This semester also marks the beginning of ”Late Night” classes, which start at 9 p.m. and go until 11:45.
Some of the benefits are obvious. There are people in the Boston area who wanted to further their education, but scheduling conflicts made more schooling an impossible dream. Now, they can.
“We can accommodate students who can’t come to class at the normal hours,” said Colleen Roach, Executive Director of Communications and Marketing at BHCC. “We can be flexible. We can adapt to the needs of the workforce.”
Granted, studying algebra in the wee small hours of the morning comes with it’s own unique challenges. Even a seasoned night owl can lose a little bit of mojo by the time 1:45 rolls around.
“Coffee is important,” said Roach. “We offer free coffee. We put that in all of our branding and advertising. And it caught on. It created a spirit of camaraderie among the students in those classes.”
According to a 2008 study from the Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success, almost a third of all undergraduates in the country work 35 hours a week or more. Nearly a quarter of all undergraduates are parents. 1 in 8 students are single parents. These are all people who need to balance work or familial responsibilities – sometimes both – with school. Doing all three can be a little daunting – daunting like eating an elephant.
Here at Utah Valley University, we take pride in our large number of non-traditional students. We’ve got a lot of older students who are already in the workforce or have families. We also take pride in our recent growth. We’ve got 32,670 students. But sometimes even a source of pride can be problematic.
We’re overcrowded. That’s the long and short of it. For three fall semesters in a row, UVU’s students have suffered wait lists for the classes they need to graduate. For three fall semesters in a row, they have resigned themselves to the herky-jerky schedules that come with grabbing whatever you classes are available in order to maintain the credit hours needed for financial aid.
Add working full time, having children or both factors to the mix – many Wolverines do just that. That’s not a schedule. It’s a train wreck.
But what if we offered midnight or late-night classes?
Right now, UVU doesn’t offer a class that starts later than 8:00 p.m. Those are a scant few in number. Generally speaking, unless there’s a dance or some other event happening, campus is a ghost town.
Currently UVU offers over 100 weekend classes, on Friday nights and Saturday mornings. They actually run the gamut of the collegiate learning experience. Students who spend their weekend riding a desk can take Human Sexuality, Quantitative Reasoning, a course on Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” or a mysterious-sounding class entitled “Thanatology – Death and Dying”.
It’s a good start, but we can do even better.
Offering midnight or late-night courses would be beneficial for our fine institution in a number of ways. Firstly, offering a plethora of classes after sundown could alleviate some of our current woes. Overcrowding would be lessened. Registration woes would still exist for a few unlucky souls, but not to the soul-crushing level we’re currently experiencing.
Some people who currently find that there are not enough hours in the day to keep a roof over their head while simultaneously receiving an education might hear about UVU’s midnight classes and be inspired to enroll in school. That’s more tuition money for the school. Which means more resources.
Furthermore, if UVU offered midnight classes, it could create more jobs in the community. UVU currently employs 639 adjunct professors. An adjunct professor, as you may or may not know, is a part-time, non-salaried faculty member who teaches classes. Some of them work in the professional world and teach on the side. They don’t qualify for tenure, but, in turn, they don’t always have to have a PhD. They can teach basic courses and do it with only a bachelor’s degree.
It follows that UVU can employ some of it’s graduates to teach some of these midnight classes, perhaps while they’re saving up for grad school or waiting for jobs in the professional world. This would be a sort of backdoor way to up some of our statistics, in particular the percentage of graduates who find employment within a year of graduation. But, it would be a legitimate boon, nonetheless.
Theoretically, UVU could very easily offer midnight courses. No one’s saying that UVU is a crummy institution if they don’t. No one’s saying that our administration board is a cartel of negligent monsters if people can’t learn algebra after 11 p.m. But, we can at least look into right? We definitely have the need. We could acquire the faculty.
From here, it looks like the only thing we’re missing is the coffee. We can get that. Someone on campus has to have a Costco membership. While we’re at it, we should probably get a pallet of Mountain Dew, too. We’d hate to put the Institute kids in the way of unnecessary temptation just because they want to learn.
John-Ross Boyce – Opinions Editor
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