Palo Alto College considers increasing flex classes

Photo illustration by Lauren Terrazas

Faculty and staff at Palo Alto College are discussing plans to cut down the time frame of each course, turning them into 8-week courses instead of the traditional 16-week courses.

The topic of flex scheduling brings up a lot of mixed opinions. Although flex courses are intended to provide accommodations for busy students, this might not necessarily be beneficial to all stakeholders.

“By doing this, we hope to avoid any negative effects. Other institutions have effectively implemented flex sectioning on a large-scale. We hope to effectively implement strategically scheduled flex courses on a small-scale to provide PAC students with multiple scheduling options that fit best for them, both academically and personally,” said Patrick R. Lee, dean of Academic Success at Palo Alto College.

If this change was to be made, it would mean less time to learn the material and fast-paced lessons from the professors.

Some students would prefer 8-week courses over 16-week courses because it would mean getting the class done in a shorter amount of time. But if the student can’t keep up with the workload and time crunch, flex courses may not be the best choice.

“It will affect us by making us more stressed because the students will have to work harder at a faster pace, and not everyone can do that. The change will either help students stay more focused in their class or make their grades go down because of the pace of the class,” said Destiny Moy, a freshman Biology major at Palo Alto College.

This change will also affect professors and their ability to teach the subject in a shorter amount of time.

“I don’t like the 8-week course. Why? Because this puts more of a rush on us professors. Students would put 16-weeks into eight,” said Joseph M. Fonseca Jr., a Texas Government professor at Palo Alto College.

With so many factors to take into consideration from all parties involved, this topic warrants further collaboration with primary decision makers.

“At this point, we are not considering making a change on a large-scale.  We are researching the pros and cons of flex scheduling through looking at colleges, such as Amarillo Community College, Odessa Community College, and Grayson Community College, who have shown success with increased productive grade rates and retention rates after moving to a majority flex schedule. At this time, however, we are not moving toward a majority flex schedule,” said Lee.

Although other campuses have seen positive outcomes from making the change to 8-week courses, this topic is still up for discussion at Palo Alto College. Email Dean Lee at to voice your opinion.

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