Course offering complications

Sometimes it can be a little tricky trying to schedule classes for upcoming semesters. If a student is trying to graduate within four years but a certain class won’t be offered for a while, it could mess things up.

There are a variety of reasons why classes might be delayed, or even cut from the curriculum entirely. And one of the first causes is the budget, from which each department receives a set amount.

“To this point, or historically to the last number of years, the course schedules have been built by each department,” said Douglas Eastman, a registrar in the advising and registration center at Johnson. “I think that making that decision in what courses get offered has to do equally with what the department would expect or demand for courses.”

In some instances, some departments will offer electives to fill requirements in a particular major, spacing them out across the semesters so as not to compete with each other. But with all of the shuffling across semesters, it can be a little difficult to keep track of what is being offered and when. There is, of course, the catalog to pick classes from, but that can’t help with planning future classes.

“What we’re looking at moving to is having departments submit a five-year course offering plan, looking at those in comparison to the four-year degree maps,” said Eastman.

Advising would then use the budget of each department and this “map” to construct a system of demand-base scheduling. This is a different method of planning classes from the one that the departments have used in the past.

One possible solution to the issue of classes being offered at certain times is the unification between Johnson State College and Lyndon State College. Although, while the unification does provide a possible solution, it does also have a potential problem: the distance between the schools.

“Even though Lyndon is only an hour or so away, that is a physical barrier,” said Eastman. “You can’t assume students are going to travel an hour, take an hour and a half class and drive an hour back. I think to really make that work, we have to really leverage technology.”

Granted, there are online classes or the Telepresence program, which aids in long distance learning. But these solutions will depend on the individual departments offering these courses.

“That’s going to depend on the department, in terms of either willingness to do that or desire to do that type of scheduling,” said Eastman.

And for cases when the class absolutely needs to be taken at that time, there is the option of substitution. At this point in time, a request must be made of the department chair for approval.

“I think the conversation that I’ve heard around unification is a desire to not have students seek out permission for these substitutions,” said Eastman, continuing on to say that the students would have a “map” of how Lyndon’s courses would work into their degree program.