Requiring students to attend classes before they are fully awake needlessly complicates their lives.
Every major has core classes that are required for graduation. They range from classes that gently prep students with the knowledge they’ll be expected to know for their upper-level courses, to grueling requirements that weed out the kids that will soon change their major. These are the classes that students need to take seriously.
Unfortunately, many of these classes are offered in the mornings, a challenging time of day for many students. At 8 or 9 a.m., many students’ brains are just starting up, and they’re groggily reaching for their first (or second) cup of coffee. They’re shaking off last night’s study session, bad dreams or just the morning fog. Students shouldn’t be punished for not being morning people.
Commuters don’t have it any easier. Not every commuter lives just down the street. Students drive anywhere from ten minutes to an hour to get to classes. Add parking and walking to class, and the time adds up. 8 a.m. classes can mean that a student needs to get up before sunrise just to make it to campus on time. Students shouldn’t have to outpace the sun just because morning classes conflict less often with other classes that are offered at other times of day.
When classes are only offered in the first few hours of the day, students are faced with a slew of bad choices. They can attempt to adjust their schedule until they can function tolerably in the morning (which requires discipline, patience and a great deal of arguing with their internal clock to get to bed when they need to).
Alternately, they can schedule times to nap during the day and continue to stay up like they usually do (which also means they are generally less alert in their morning classes and have to build their lives around this class). Or, finally, they can accept the inevitability of suffering for the semester (at which time they’ll likely skip a lot of class and also develop a deep and abiding hatred for the course).
All of these options strain students and impact their performance in the class. If that weren’t enough, their resentment for the class is generally apparent. Professors notice this. They were students once, too, and while they might like or not like these morning classes, I’m willing to bet they’d much prefer an engaged class to one of scowling young adults watching the clock like its hands are offering salvation instead of a time count. Professors who don’t like their class are less excited to teach and are fighting an uphill battle to make the class a positive experience.
Administration could fix these problems by shifting the classes an hour or two, so that core classes are offered between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 or 3 p.m., times where students generally have few obligations and are much more likely to be alert. Leave the morning and night classes to electives, where students can personalize their schedules to times that meet their own individual needs.