Outside lectures shouldn’t be required

Rewon Shimray | Cartoonist

It would be incredibly difficult to find a student at Baylor who truly only has to worry about attending class and completing coursework. A majority of students are involved in at least one other activity during the week –– a sorority or fraternity, an on-campus club or organization, a competitive or club sport, a volunteering position, an internship, a work-study job or an off-campus job.

As a result of these extracurricular activities, students spend hours and sometimes days perfectly crafting their class schedules to balance these other endeavors. They utilize tools such as day planners, online calendars and reminders just to be sure that they’re leaving enough time for each of their commitments, as well as extra time to eat, sleep and occasionally spend time with friends.

On top of these obligations, sometimes professors require students to meet outside of their scheduled class time. These meetings can be for lectures, labs or even tests, and many professors simply select a time that works for them and assume that the students will be able to attend as well. Professors should not be allowed to require students to attend out-of-class meetings such as these for course credit.

Because of the painstaking detail students put into their schedule planning, these mandatory meetings can throw a wrench in the balancing act that is college life. Students who work or volunteer on top of their classes may have to give up shifts or request time off for such a meeting.

Understandably, though, there are some courses that may need extra time given the nature of the class. For example, for foreign language classes, students may need more assistance and could benefit from an additional lecture each week, or for science courses, it can be difficult to compact so much information into two meetings each week. If a professor must meet outside of schedule class hours, the dates and times of the meetings outside of class should be given to the student before the semester begins, and there should be an asterisk or explanation next to the course listing during registration.

For example, Baylor offers a popular astronomy course (PHY 1455) each semester that many students take to satisfy one of their lab science requirements. It goes without saying that it can be difficult to observe stars’ and planets’ movement during the day, therefore, the course requires students to attend one night-sky viewing throughout the entire semester.

Although the instructors offer multiple dates and times for students to satisfy this obligation, it would be helpful to students to know these days before the semester begins so they are able to plan for them. Furthermore, if students were aware that the course required extra meetings during the registration process through additional information on the course listing, they would be able to determine whether this course was indeed the best fit for their schedule.

It is important to note that astronomy itself can sometimes be a difficult course to pre-plan because night-sky viewings demand optimal weather conditions. However, letting students know an already scheduled out-of-class meeting has been postponed is completely different than simply requiring them to show up on their own time without much warning.

Some professors offer extra credit for students who attend lectures or other meetings outside of class. This is not an issue, because students’ grades are not dependent upon their attendance an out-of-class meeting, and the meeting has already been labeled as “extra” thus demonstrating its role in the course.

With the changes to Baylor’s core curriculum quickly approaching, this is a necessary and simple addition to the online and hardcopy course catalogs that will aid students long-term and help ensure their dedication to their classes.