OPINION | DSU should offer more diverse class length options

It can be difficult for students to stay focused for long periods of time, which can make it difficult to stand a two-hour class. Rachel Lords says, “DSU should keep multiple class times but offer more diverse times for long classes and short classes.” Photo illustration by Misha Mosiichuk.

Share This:

College is a time of freedom and a time to focus on what you really want to do in life. I’m not completely sure what I want to do with my future yet, but one thing I know is I don’t want to spend 2 1/2 hours in a class when I have a hard enough time paying attention in a 50-minute class.

College provides you with an infinite number of personal freedoms, from choosing what classes you want to take and when, to even being able to choose to participate in a shorter or longer class. You can typically be in 50-minute classes three times per week, 75-minute classes twice per week, and sometimes classes that are 2 1/2 hours once per week.

Some classes at Dixie State University start late in the evening at 6 p.m. and go until 8:30 p.m., while others may be from the wretched hours when I should be asleep, from 7:30 a.m. – 8:45 a.m. No matter how much I think about it, I can’t imagine any reason as to why a student or teacher would want to be in a class that long aside from the fact that it is once per week.

As we all get older and become part of adult society, we are expected to work hard for roughly eight hours per day. With those hours in mind, college classes don’t even come close to how long people spend in the office, but studies have shown that long classes are not the ideal class length.

Most students’ attention span only lasts for 10 to 15 minutes, and with classes as long as 2 1/2 hours, there’s going to be a lot of time that students aren’t even paying attention.

At the end of an average 50-minute class, I’m already starting to look at the clock to count down the minutes until I can log out and escape learning for just a little while. If I was in that long of a class, I’m sure there would be a large portion of content given to me that I just couldn’t absorb due to concentrating for too long.

Shorter class lengths allow students to have breaks to prevent their minds from getting bored and tired, allowing them to focus better on what’s being taught. They also allow students to have more in-class time than a long class would because they meet more often, which allows the time to add up easier.

While I personally find myself more inclined to participate in shorter class periods due to my own learning and concentration habits, everyone is different at the end of the day. For a student who doesn’t have a lot of free time, a long class once per week would be really helpful for them, especially if they have work or a family to care for.

Even though the average time-span that a student can focus is at most 15 minutes, that varies depending on who you are. There are many factors that go into being able to focus in class, such as how passionate you are about a subject, how motivated you are to succeed, and the time of day.

If you are choosing to take a 2 1/2-hour-long class because of a work schedule or other responsibilities that determine what time you can take it, you may not be able to choose what may work best for your brain. But studies show that brains do learn best in the morning, since this is the time your brain is most rested and alert.

Meanwhile, afternoon and evening brains are more able to make connections and understand knowledge they already know. Depending on who you are, taking classes at these times might benefit you, even if they are absurdly long. 

When I am being completely self-aware of my own habits and ability to learn, I lean more toward shorter classes that I can attend multiple times per week. This helps the topics remain fresh in my mind while allowing me to focus on the topics without getting too distracted.

I have done evening classes before because of my schedule at the time, and I spent most of it being hungry and checking the clock. One of those problems could’ve been solved by eating before the class, but it really just didn’t work out well for me in the end.

DSU should keep multiple class times but offer more diverse times for long classes and short classes. Having more short classes in the evening can allow students who are too busy during the day to still have a short class period a few times per week. It would also be beneficial to have a few 2 1/2-hour courses during the middle of the day in case students prefer meeting once per week and getting it over with in one go.

Doing this will allow DSU to accommodate more diverse student schedules and provide more learning options for students since we all learn differently.

The important thing is to know what your own limits are because knowing what will help you be most successful in both your school life and personal life is what matters most.