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Embracing the Scheduling Puzzle
Tuesday morning students and advisors began the scheduling process for the Winter Term. While at some schools students schedule for an entire year at one time, much to the delight of Academic Dean Doug Houston, we schedule students in classes three times a year (sarcasm intended). This intricate scheduling puzzle is created by allowing students to schedule new courses each term, but it is a task Social Science Chair Phil Goodnow noted during Tuesday evening’s faculty meeting that is, “Core to who we are as a school and how we believe we best serve our students.”

When analyzing the scheduling process, as Chris Rogers '95 and his adivees are doing in the image above, logistical challenges abound, not the least of which is making sure the thirty students studying off-campus are able to enroll in on-campus courses for the winter trimester. This hurdle is overcome relatively easily thanks to technology and the worldwide web which allows advisors and students to communicate from all corners of the earth - even from aboard a schooner sailing to the Dominican Republic!

The obstacle that is perhaps the most challenging is one that other schools may never encounter. Because we so highly value individual learning styles, students not only select their courses for the next term, but are also able to choose individual teachers within a given course. While this may seem unnecessary, we recognize teaching styles differ as much as learning styles do, so why not proactively work to pair students with teachers whose way of teaching best suits him or her.

This type of individualized course selection creates inefficiencies as a school by not always being able to predict how each class offered will fill and this topic even entered faculty meeting conversation. We could certainly reduce costs by more intentionally managing enrollment in each class section and by moving students into classes we wanted them to be in so that every class offered was fully enrolled. However, by moving toward uniformity in curriculum, Proctor would lose one of its most valuable assets: the ability to customize each student's education and tailor class schedule and programs to his or her interests. 

While standardization of schedules would reduce costs and alleviate scheduling conflicts, allowing students the freedom to create their academic schedule and to identify teachers whose teaching styles mesh best with individual learning styles proves invaluable to our students and to the Proctor experience they help shape for themselves.

For a complete grid of academic courses being offered this winter, click HERE. Which classes would you take?
Bailey's academic schedule brings her to ceramics every day.
Forensics students work on applying evidence collection to criminal investigations.
Each student's academic schedule is meticulously crafted with his or her advisor to ensure student learning styles are matched with teaching styles.
Emphasizing the individualization of academic schedules can be cumbersome for the Academic Dean, but the resulting educational experience is priceless!