City College San Francisco The Guardsman
Journalism DepartmentIndicator
Volume 134, Issue 6

Should CCSF have shorter semesters?

Hell, no!

There are rumors that City College might finally shorten the length of semesters. I was shocked to learn that we spend up to two additional weeks in school here than students do at other institutions in the bay area. I have been frustrated with the short amount of time I had off between summer session and fall semester, not to mention, not being able to go away the week proceeding Labor Day.

Most of the classes we take are transferable, if not almost the exact same course content. So why do we have to be in school longer?

I did an analysis of both the fall and spring semesters of City College, Laney College in Oakland, Skyline and SF State, Berkeley, and USF. We do get a few more "holidays" sprinkled here and there, but I'd cash in a few three day weekends to have an additional two weeks off anytime!

For spring semester, the community colleges are in class seven more days than at State - and winter break between the semesters? Community colleges get three weeks off, Berkeley gives over four weeks, State over five, and USF gives a whopping six weeks off between the end of the fall semester and beginning of the spring semester. I know how hard I work in school and how much I deserve time off. Can you imagine six weeks off? Knowing I had more vacation to look forward to would certainly make me work even harder during the semester.

There's also talk of changing City College to quarters. I'd be thrilled to have 8-10 weeks of intensive instruction, four times a year, with 2-3 weeks off in between. So why do we have the longer semesters?

One member of the faculty told me he believed it was due to the teacher's union insisting that instructors get enough time off, resulting in longer semesters to account for instructor flex days. But we spend seven more days per semester in class than at State. That doesn't seem like teachers getting more time off.

Maybe the school board has determined that since we're a community college we need more time in class. Are we really getting more for our time? Something needs to be done to make the semester length at City College shorter. We started school on August 19th this year. By most accounts, that is still summertime!

Imagine taking an Algebra class where you had a week to cover a whole chapter, a test given every Friday and all readings and exercises were due the next day of class. Even now I find it stressful balancing school, work and social life. I can't image what would happen to my grades if I had to cram any more school work into my schedule, to say nothing of a shorter time period.

Sifu Mark Barquera of Wing Chun Kung Fu once told me, "The more distance you have, the more time you have to react." Similarly, the more time you have before a test, the more "reaction" time you have in order to prepare for the "attack" of assignments, projects, exams, etc Longer semesters teach you to plan your time more wisely.

If you don't have to work outside of school, or just love to work under pressure, then you may have enough time to cram more schoolwork into a shorter amount of time. I think it is hard enough to find the time to do lab hours, library time and get the equipment you need. If you have no other obligations, this might be a breeze for you. But for students like me who have to balance work and school, the very basics are overwhelming. With all the duties of full-time school, part-time jobs, commitments, and art projects, I need time to catch up.

There was a time when I was an unorganized, free-flowing guy. Now I'm someone who carries a folder for each class, making sure that readings, assignments and exam preparation are done on time. Now, I work very hard. The other day my father said to me, "Son, I am worried about your health. The knife has only one blade. If it had any more, you might cut yourself." In other words, if you have too many things going at once, it could be destructive to your health.

The formula for success seems to need the sacrifice of living like a human and assimilating into working like a machine. The more you can cram information, multitask, and produce quickly, the more valuable you become. Our society is pushing for perfection

I say take a breath, enjoy being alive or you are going to pull your hair out with agitation. Don't get caught up in the madness. Enjoy every moment of life, and take each day at a time. One should travel light, have time to eat, and have enough sleep rather than sacrifice your basic needs to get stuff done.