16-week semester will benefit students

Editorial Board

Students will reap long-term benefits if Diablo Valley College shortens its current 18-week semester to 16 weeks. A shorter semester will put students on the fast-track for degree and certificate completion, as well as for transfer.

It may seem daunting, but for some students, shortening the term will aid to their advantage.

Culinary students, for instance, have a short-term sanitation class that they have to take before they can take any classes. Being able to take that during a winter session would let students jump right into the full term classes that require that prerequisite even faster than before.

This will also help students who have to take remedial math or English courses. There would be ample time to get classes like Engl-118 or Math-120 done so that you could start taking transferable courses.

Though this Contra Costa College District proposal wouldn’t be implemented until 2016, an upcoming district-wide vote will determine whether or not it will pass at all.

If DVC switches to a 16-week semester format, then an additional short-term Winter Intercession will possibly be added between the fall and spring semesters, as well as an expanded summer intercession. Doing so will give students the opportunity to complete even more units in just a year’s span.

A shorter semester does, in fact, suggest faster paced class material. This may particularly concern STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) majors.

However, with most universities on the quarter system, this shift to a 16-week semester will only further prepare students for the inevitable reality of college after transfer. 

A college quarter is 10 weeks plus one week for finals, which is still five weeks shorter than what DVC is proposing.

Additionally, data from other California community colleges that have already made this shortened semester shift actually prove that shorter semesters slightly increased in overall retention rates by one percent and that overall success rates did not decline.

These findings from the CCCD’s 2006 Compressed Calendar Task Force conclude that adapting a 16-week semester format increases student satisfaction, gives students more opportunities to complete required pre-requisites and units. It also showed that the increase in the length of breaks between semesters for students who decide not to enroll during the intercessions allows students to focus better and not get burnt out too easily.

A 16-week compressed schedule will better prepare students for transfer and help them complete required classes in less time.