BLOUNTVILLE — Drive time and fuel costs will shrink for some area community college students and their part-time instructors starting in January.
Northeast State Technical Community College will reduce many Monday, Wednesday and Friday course sections from three days per week to two days a week, Monday and Wednesday, the school announced Wednesday.
The change will affect selected classes on the main campus in Blountville, as well as the Regional Center for Applied Technology in downtown Kingsport and the Northeast State campus in Elizabethton.
“We’re going on the idea that gas prices have gone down, but they’re going to be going back up,” William Wilson, dean of the Humanities Division, said Wednesday.
Under the new schedule, more than 400 course sections traditionally held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday will be moved to Monday and Wednesday with an extended time period matching the current one-hour and 20-minute class periods of Tuesday and Thursday courses.
Wilson said all M/W/F courses in his division are going to the M/W schedule, but some courses — including the five-day nursing program and most science courses with labs — will not.
“We did not cut any offerings of classes from what we offered last spring,” said Xiaoping Wang, dean of the Behavioral and Social Sciences Division. “Our primary goal is for students to have the classes they need and progress in a timely manner in their education.”
In addition to the M/W option, the spring schedule also includes a greater number of three-hour classes on Fridays to complement the Weekend College offered on Saturdays.
“Fridays are not going to be an empty day,” Wilson said. “We really want to be open on Friday and Saturday because of our weekend component.”
The new schedule allows students to take up to 12 hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“We are trying to help students reduce their schedule obligations from three days to two days per week and possibly limit their overall trips to four days per week instead of five,” Wilson said.
School officials said the new class offerings add to alternative learning methods. The college offers distance education resources including online courses, interactive television, Weekend College, the Regents Online Degree Program (RODP) and distance learning sites around Northeast Tennessee.
The new schedule focuses on three-hour courses in the divisions of humanities, behavioral sciences and social sciences, and mathematics. The schedule changes also include developmental courses needed by students enrolling in college for the first time.
“We are trying to provide some different options,” said Lana Hamilton, usually the dean of the Science Division but now acting assistant vice president for academic affairs. “This gives students more options to pick and choose their courses.”
Hamilton said some classes with lab time are not being changed because of issues with available lab space as well as the length of the lab times.
In 2006, Northeast State implemented the four-day week for the summer term, a schedule change Wilson said was well-received by students. Students will be notified of the new schedule before the spring semester’s priority registration deadline of Nov. 10.
“What we intend for this to be is just another option for our students,” Hamilton said.
Wang said the college’s expansion into the Humanities Building opened up more classroom space that allowed flexibility in scheduling. With more than 50 adjunct faculty members teaching in the two divisions, respectively, she and Wilson agreed that the new schedule also eased travel obligations for adjunct faculty members.
“The schedule also gives us more time on task for students to absorb the subject matter during class time due to the longer class period,” Wang said.
Recent enrollment statistics indicate college students are pursuing cost-saving, alternative distance learning methods to earn credits toward a degree. Northeast State’s current fall enrollment in RODP courses surged 88 percent over last year.
“The hope is students can realize a savings of time and money while maintaining their desired number of classes and level of instruction,” Wilson said.
For more information contact the school’s Office of Admissions and Records at 1-800-836-7822 or admissions@NortheastState.edu.