WCTC to revise academic calendar, feature 8-week courses starting summer 2020
Waukesha County Technical College to revise academic calendar, feature 8-week courses starting summer 2020
PEWAUKEE, Wis. (Thursday, September 5, 2019) – Starting in June 2020, Waukesha County Technical College will transform the way students earn associate degrees and technical diplomas by implementing a year-round academic calendar that offers courses in 8-week timeframes.
This shift in programming is a boon to students and employers. It allows students to build on their academic momentum, complete their education in a shorter timeframe and connect with jobs sooner.
“The move to an 8-week model is based on national, state and local data,” said WCTC Provost Ann Krause-Hanson, Ph.D., noting some WCTC programs are already available in this format. “Our own data has shown that over the last three years, success rates for our 8-week courses are significantly higher than for our traditional 16-week courses. We have to expand this successful model to enable more of our students to complete and get out into the workforce more quickly.”
The data, collected since spring 2016, shows a notably greater percentage of students who are successful completing their courses, while fewer students are withdrawing from courses, said Brad Piazza, Ph.D., WCTC vice-president of Learning.
“What we’re seeing is a 10 percent higher course success rate, which is consistent with national data,” he said, noting the drop rate is five percent lower for those in 8-week courses.
Currently, a traditional academic year at WCTC consists of two 16-week semesters – one each in fall and spring – with an optional summer semester and shorter January and May terms (interims). The new calendar will be year-round and consist of five 8-week course sessions: one in summer, two in fall and two in spring, plus optional, shorter January and May terms. Students will have a week off between sessions.
This new format is driven by various factors, Piazza said, but primarily the significant number of students – 85 percent – who attend WCTC part time.
“The most frequent number of credits attempted in a semester by our students is between three and six,” he said. “Our programs have been designed and delivered for a student population that is not consistent with our local data. We need to change how we do business.”
Beyond changes to course scheduling, the 8-week approach will also enable WCTC to diversify how courses are delivered. Students will have opportunities to complete courses in face-to-face, online or hybrid formats, allowing for even more flexibility in how they progress through their programs, said Nicole Gahagan, WCTC vice president of Student Services.
"For years, students have been telling us that they need more options outside of the traditional 16-week calendar and in-person classes that we have been offering for decades,” she said. “Our student demographic, which consists primarily of currently employed adult learners, will benefit from educational opportunities that are responsive to their needs to delicately balance work and life with college.”
For details and updates on WCTC’s new year-round academic calendar featuring 8-week courses, visit www.wctc.edu/8-week.