Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee, is introducing ''Full-time Friday'' for the fall semester, and Phyllis Foley, the college’s dean of education and social sciences says, ''This is probably not the schedule for every student. It’s a long day. Some students may choose to take a few classes and not all of them.'' She stresses that those who enroll in the classes must be both highly motivated and disciplined to succeed.
The marathon Friday schedule was borne out of a meeting among the college’s deans that took place only about a month ago, according to Foley. The idea was hashed out over a matter of weeks, and was finally publicly announced last week. Of course, students can still carry a full-time course load by taking classes the typical two or three days a week. This new option, Foley says, is simply a proactive way for the college to assist its financially strapped commuters, most of whom she estimates drive anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour per day in order to take classes.
Spending 11 and a half hours in a classroom every Friday for a whole semester is a daunting prospect, and students who may not be up to it have the option of coming to class for a long day only once a month if they wish to enroll in an online/classroom hybrid version of ''Full-time Friday.'' These classes offer 75% of their instruction online and the other 25% in the classroom when their classes meet, which would be only five times per semester. Len Assante, chair of Volunteer State Community College’s communications department says, ''Considering the rapid growth of online-only and hybrid class enrollment at the college…these options have a better chance of survival than that of spending an entire Friday in the classroom every week.'' He adds, ''With a hybrid course, since so much of the work is online, you have the ability to spread the workload out…so you’re not constantly overburdened. The mental anguish would be a whole lot less.'' Assante has taught many courses of this sort outside of the new Friday-only schedule.
This type of scheduling can be intense, and administrators at the college are considering how best to recommend it to their students. This option may not be suitable for some of them. Since anyone can enroll in ''Full-time Friday,'' advisors will have to take into account a student’s grade point average and previous academic course work before recommending it to him or her. Just as some full-time students who wish to take four classes online can find the schedule forbidding, Foley states, ''Such options appear easy and manageable on paper but end up being much more challenging in reality.'' Assante adds, ''I don’t think even the students will know if they’re up-to-snuff enough…I don’t think you can appreciate the rigors of a 14-hour day unless you’re in it.''
The Friday-only scheduling of classes in this initial semester is basically a college-wide experiment, and Foley states that ''‘Full-time Friday’'' has the potential to expand if it is positively received by both students and faculty.'' She also says that the college may add classes beyond the general education level if interest remains high. For the time being, however, Foley said she is ''anxious to see how many students register and stay with the schedule for the entire semester.''