Students need more options for summer class schedules

Jeff Rose

For those of us taking summer courses here at UT, we often need the classes we’re taking — to complete core requirements, take that pesky UGS you didn’t want to squeeze into your fall and spring coursework, or, for seniors who walked in the spring, to finish remaining coursework. Managing to sign up for more than one class during or across summer sessions is difficult, however, as many of these courses’ meeting times overlap. Students who dedicate their summer to their studies shouldn’t have to worry about scheduling conflicts for the classes they need.

Department instructors and administrators, especially in those departments with courses included among the University’s core requirements, need to be aware of their offered course times during the summer in order to create a varied, beneficial course schedule for all students.

“During the summer semester, class meeting times of Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m to 1 p.m. tend to be the most popular,” said assistant registrar Truman Glenn. Looking at any department’s coursework offered this summer proves this to be true. For example, all of the UGS courses offered in the first session start at either 9:30, 10, 10:30 or 11 a.m.

Additionally, the School of Undergraduate Studies, as well as departments such as American sign language and anthropology, seem to have more morning classes in the first session, then more afternoon classes in the second session. Students wanting a specific morning course during their first session might have difficulties with fitting in two morning classes, and vice versa for the second session and afternoon classes.

Compared to those in the spring and fall, summer courses offerings are significantly smaller, and generally have the same start times, rather than being set for a variety of options. At a time when students are taking vital classes, restrictive course schedules contradicts the whole purpose of summer courses.

Glenn also said the Office of the Registrar works with the colleges to create the course schedule, which in turn work with respective faculty on what classes to teach when. This means instructors are selecting their preferred times, which commonly turn out to be around the same period of day.

It’s understandable that time conflicts will happen. But when instructors are so commonly picking the same times for entire sessions, the system clearly isn’t working in favor of the students taking classes and spending money to be there. As a result, students could be pushed back from graduation or not get an ideal fall or spring schedule following the end of summer.

Furthermore, disabled students also may not be able to sign up for certain classes if times are so close together. For wheelchair users and those with mobile disabilities, it can be difficult to make the trek across this relatively inaccessible campus in time. While accommodations would help and allow students to arrive late or leave early, most students would not want to miss out on vital classroom time during such a packed five weeks.   

Students who want to figure out how to manage or navigate their schedule best can use UT Planner or talk to their advisor. However, students concerned about future summer sessions could bring it up with their departments, faculty, or even student government. This will bring the issue to faculty and staff who have the power to change the scheduling. Ultimately, instructors need to be active in considering their students’ ability to take their class alongside others and succeed.

Rose is an English and rhetoric and writing junior from The Woodlands. He is a senior columnist. Follow him on Twitter @jeffsroses.