Starting in Fall 2018, students will be able to map out their road to success by checking out the class schedule two years in advance.
During the President’s Forum at the end of the spring semester, Superintendent-President Dr. Rajen Vurdien announced that students will be able to see the class schedule up to two years in advance during the fall 2018. Vice President of Instruction Terry Giugni is currently working with the deans to make sure that students will be able to see that far in advance. The only thing that students won’t be able to do is register around that timeline.
“What we would have are the classes that we’re offering fall-spring-fall-spring, and the days and times that those classes would be scheduled,” said Giugni.
As of yet, it’s still undecided whether or not the schedule will include the winter and summer sessions. Winter was just reinstated and according to Giugni, they’re still collecting data on summer.
“We really don’t know what works best for winter because we’ve done one winter [session] in the last six years,” Giugni said. “Winter makes summer less predictive because a lot of students took some classes in the winter,” said Giugni.
There are other schools that are in the process of doing something similar but so far, West Hills College in Lemoore and Coalinga are the only ones currently allowing students to register for a one-year term by enrolling through their reg365 program.
Although the bigger picture sounds like a great idea, the process of getting there will be tedious. Giugni explains that while it’s predictable to know student growth and contention from one fall and spring semester to the next due to data collection, ‘rolling over’ — ie: making the schedule the same throughout the year, will be one of the disadvantages in pulling this off. According to him, semesters like fall, for example, should not be looking the same year after year.
“We’re not taking into account all the various pieces of data (long wait lists, full and low enrollment classes) that should impact the development of the schedule,” Guigni said. “We should be adding more classes where there’s a high demand and offering fewer classes that have a lower demand.”
Another administrative downside that’s at play is the student population, which changes annually. Marketing Director Alex Boekelheide says the tricky part about this whole thing is figuring out exactly what the students need while looking at the possibility that some students either may not stay longer than a semester and go elsewhere, or may have life situations come up where they may have to take time off from school.
“To fight that, what we’re trying to do is to get every student to put together an Educational (Ed) Plan,” said Boekelheide. “The more students we could get to do these Ed Plans, the more information we [have] to build these schedules down the road.”
Ed Plans are documents that students and counselors build together in order for students to achieve their academic career goals. In other words, they’re road maps used to help students stay on track while taking specific courses in order for them to finish their time at PCC.
To help further the goal of enrollment, students can get their Ed Plans through various means besides meeting with a counselor. They can email a counselor to help them put together an Ed Plan online, go to tutoring centers across campus and receive text messages or emails to be reminded to put together an Ed Plan. Right now, according to VP of Student Services Cynthia Olivo, only 13,500 students have them in place.
“[These are] some of the strategies we’ve used in order to get the 13,500 students,” said Olivo. “These strategies were put in place so that so that we could make sure every student has an Ed Plan.”
According to Olivo, there are 2,500 first-year-experience (FYE) freshmen that will be getting Ed Plans when Fall 2017 registration starts on July 11. FYE students have been notified that they can go to the Welcome Center in Harbeson Hall and meet with a counselor to start on an Ed Plan immediately.
There are also students that don’t have Ed Plans. According to Olivo, they’re in good shape with the numbers of those who do have it in comparison to those who don’t. It’s unclear on why there are some students who don’t have them.
“Maybe they’re working or they have other life circumstances that get in the way of them sitting down with a counselor, which is why we came up with the online service,” said Olivo.
The technical aspects of putting this project together in one year is another thing that might slow it down. Depending on how much student data is received, according to Giugni, constant modifications will be made to the schedule. For example, all the data received is based on student behavior. The reality is that counselors won’t have enough information to know how many of them will be able to take various classes during the day, afternoon, or evening, let alone if it’s every day, a number of days during the week or during the weekend.
“It won’t be perfect for every student because we don’t know every student’s needs,” said Giugni. “It will be difficult to get all of that data so that the two year schedule is the perfect fit for all 30,000+ students.”
Guigni admits that he feels a bit stressed despite the excitement he feels about taking on this project. He acknowledges that although he and the rest of the deans will be able to pull it off, he doesn’t expect it to be perfect.
“I think we will have to continue to tweak as we play with it and as we learn more,” said Giugni. “Ultimately the whole idea of this is that it’s better for students because you could plan your life two years out in regards to your education as opposed to one semester at a time.”