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Students, hit the snooze button and take advantage of late classes

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | MAY 08, 2009 7:26 AM

Offering more night classes is the latest scheme UI officials are putting in place in an effort to keep students from having fun. At least, that’s how some students see the move.

While policymakers on campus may have drinking in mind as part of the reason to offer more night classes, students should welcome night classes as a convenient way to accommodate schedules.

Doug Lee, the associate dean of the UI Division of Continuing Education, told the DI night classes were originally a way to accommodate nontraditional students — for instance, students with children or full-time jobs off campus or older students. However, the courses have gained popularity with regular students.

Around 10,000 students were enrolled in night classes in the fall of 2007. Now, almost 13,000 students are already slated to take night classes in the fall of 2009.

Officials from the Division of Continuing Education said providing an alternative to the bar scene is part of the consideration behind offering more late classes.

“I think it definitely would give students another option if they schedule a night class,” Lee said. “This way, they’re obviously not in a bar, so I think it benefits both the students and the university … the main focus needs to be on spending time in school.”

But that’s a motive many students are critical of.

“I don’t think night classes will stop anyone from drinking as much as they already do,” a UI junior told the DI.

But the biggest reason behind offering late classes is convenience. We join a growing number of students who have realized that a 5 p.m. class is preferable to an 8:30 a.m. lecture.

Nontraditional students enroll in late classes out of necessity; they have “real jobs” and other responsibilities to handle during the day. But for full-time students, half-a-decade or less out of high school, late classes shouldn’t be viewed as another example of the university stepping up with a vain attempt to cut drinking. Instead, students should realize the university is doing them a favor: They can sleep in without skipping their first meeting of the day.

Early classes can prevent students from spending an appropriate amount of time asleep. Numerous studies have shown that sleep-deprived students have a harder time paying attention and ultimately learn less efficiently. In fact, according to the UI Student Health website, we function at 50 to 70 percent of optimal efficiency when we’re sleep-deprived. That means “when we’re tired, we’re more likely to waste time reading and rereading the text or making silly writing mistakes when studying or working,” according to the website.

Additionally, research indicates that waking unnaturally (with an alarm, for instance) disrupts the sleep cycle. As a result, people are less able to focus and absorb information shortly after waking than they are later in the day. Clearly, that indicates later class times are beneficial to learning.

And maybe night classes will scratch the surface of the campus’ drinking problems. However, curbing drinking should be viewed as a secondary consequence of later class times. Evening classes offer students a shot at convenient scheduling and more effective learning.


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