This semester, Questrom changed its start time for evening classes from 6:00pm to 6:30pm. This hasn’t been a popular decision for part-time students, so we were excited to see Associate Dean J.P. Matychak’s email today that classes will now end at 9:15pm instead of 9:30!
Students (and sometimes professors) were baffled by the decision to change the class start time from 6:00pm to 6:30pm. Part-time professors thought students wanted it, but students don’t want it at all! What we supposed to do with that extra half hour between work and class? Why would we want to come home a half hour later?
In case you were wondering, here’s the real reason for the change in the start time.
It’s a BU policy, not a Questrom policy. A year ago, BU announced it was changing its policy on course scheduling, and that the changes would go into effect in Spring 2017. Every school across the University saw its course schedules change this spring. BU does have good reasons for doing it, even though most of these reasons are irrelevant to the part-time student experience.
Give students more time to get to class. Before the course scheduling change, students had a 10-minute passing time between classes. Part-time students may not know this, but it’s basically impossible to reliably get from one end of campus to the other in under ten minutes— even with the Green Line, the BU Bus, and the 57 bus all available as transportation. The new policy gives students 15 minutes between classes to give them more time.
Give students more options. Classes used to be scheduled mostly at peak times and days of the week rather than being spread out over all of the days and times. There was also no consistent scheduling between schools and colleges, which made it hard for students to take classes outside of their school and college. Creating a consistent schedule and spreading the courses out throughout the week means students have fewer scheduling conflicts and more course options.
What does this mean for part-time students? None of these reasons are really relevant to part-time students but they still affect us. The short version is: because of the new course schedules, classes now end at 6:15 on all nights of the week. With the new 15-minute passing time, that puts our classes at a 6:30 start time. If you’re interested in reading more, here’s what Questrom shared with its faculty about the new course changes.
So yes, the scheduling change isn’t great for part-time evening students and BU didn’t ask our opinion, but it seems to be a shared inconvenience for a greater good. It’s also inconvenient for professors who have their classes spread out through the day and week, and for students who now have required classes at 8am. It’s a tough decision but it seems to make sense for the school as a whole.
We’re glad to see Questrom listen to student feedback and change the end-time to 9:15. But we do wish that Questrom and BU communicated the reasons behind the change. In our business classes, we’ve learned that open communication can help stakeholders feel more invested and satisfied. In this case, the lack of communication made rumors fly and resentments rise.
UPDATE: In the fall edition of Echoes Around the Atrium, Associate Dean JP Matychak communicated these reasons in an abbreviated form (see comment below for further details). We suggest the Questrom registration page could be a more effective place to communicate the changes to students, since many students don’t read emails thoroughly but most PEMBAs visit the site as they register. Do you have any other suggestions for how Questrom can communicate this type of policy change in the future? Leave some comments below!