Classes that start at 8 a.m. may not be as beneficial or effective for college students as later classes.
The semester is more than halfway over and students are already receiving advisement for spring term. Apps like RateMyProfessor.com help students select the most compatible professors for them. However, there aren’t any apps to help students choose between early morning classes and evening classes.
Eight a.m. classes are the unthinkable, according to most college students. Waking up for an early class may be the last thing a student wants to do just hours after a night of partying, working, socializing or even studying. If students dread dawn classes so much, then maybe it shouldn’t be an option. Upperclassmen often try to avoid 8 a.m. classes. Many juniors and seniors are unconventional students with part- or full-time jobs.
“Night classes are usually for non-traditional students, people who work even through the day,” said Jeffrey Wilkinson, a journalism professor at Florida A&M University. “It gives them a chance to get an education.”
Wilkinson taught both 8 a.m. and evening classes at the University of Tennessee, and a university in China. The professor understood the students conflicting positions regarding an early class. When he was an undergraduate student, he also had 8 a.m. classes. Along with school, he worked at the college radio station on campus. He would sign on to the station at 6 p.m. and sign off at 8 p.m. The professor said he usually slept through his morning classes. He also recalls that attendance was usually lower in the 8 a.m. classes he taught. Fewer students would show up and they weren’t as interactive in his earlier classes.
“ You don’t get a discussion at 8 o’clock in the morning,” he said.
A freshman coming directly from high school may believe that 8 a.m. classes would be easier to adjust to, given that they are used to going to school at the crack of dawn. On the other hand, college 8 a.m. and high school 8 a.m. are different.
“They’re ([freshman) influenced to take earlier classes because people think that is easier for them to adjust, and it’s not,” said Shereada Harrell, the director of FAMU’s Career and Professional Development Center “Later, once they understand how college works, they match their schedule to fit their lifestyle.”
Harrell believes that choosing class times depends on the person. She says earlier classes can be beneficial if students prefer finishing classes in the morning and having the remainder of the day to do homework, study, or even relax. Nevertheless, the director believes students will receive the same content no matter how early a class is. Harrell says if she was an undergraduate student again she would choose an earlier class because as a professional it would be easier for her to adjust now. She also recommends when choosing classes that students should acknowledge their “wall.” The “wall” represents their limits throughout the day.
“It’s figuring out the time of day that they’ve reached their peak, done all that they can, and can’t do anymore,” she said.
Some student peak in the morning and believe early classes are beneficial.
“It helps get all of your classes over with,” said Joseph Jones a junior English major from Tallahassee. “I’m not an afternoon person.”
Jones takes an 8 a.m. public speaking class every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He appreciates finishing classes before the afternoon begins. He says getting up early helps him get a jumpstart on his day. Although the English major likes morning classes, he feels 8 a.m. classes can be too overwhelming. This is because Jones has a younger brother in high school who has to get to school early too. They leave earlier than most because he isn’t mobile and doesn’t have a car right now. So sometimes having an earlier class doesn’t allow him to eat breakfast or relax in the morning. All in all, Jones would rather be enrolled in earlier classes. If he could attend his public speaking class at a different time he would choose 9 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. The Tallahassee native doesn’t recommend students taking lecture classes that early.
“Make sure the early class you’re taking is more interactive. Make sure your brain is fully awake at that time,” he said.