'Five-Star Fridays' to be devoted to career-development activities01/24/2018
Students in the College of Business Administration discuss a real-world business challenge. When "Five Star Fridays" begin this fall, Fridays will be dedicated to internships, co-curricular activities, research, lab work, community service, advising, tutoring and more.
University of Akron President Matthew J. Wilson today announced UA will move toward implementing an innovative class schedule this fall to better prepare and serve students.
The schedule is unique to universities in the area, as it will enable most students to focus on classes Monday through Thursday and then participate in practical, career-focused experiences on Friday. In conjunction with this initiative, UA will look to continue enhancing its weekend, online, and evening scheduling as well.
The new initiative – composed of a “Five-Star Friday” and “Four-Day Core” scheduling – is intended to give as many students as possible opportunities each Friday to participate in cooperative education, gain practical work experience, and engage in internships, co-curricular activities, research, lab work, community service, advising, tutoring and more without worrying about scheduling conflicts.
Students also will be encouraged to use Five-Star Fridays to attend special events, collaborate with faculty and peers, and take advantage of expanded academic counseling, tutoring, career fairs and other career services. As a result, students also can have three days of concentrated time to prepare for classes, engage with study groups, and participate in meaningful study and research.
Designed to enhance career opportunities
“Quality learning and student success are the primary focuses of Five-Star Fridays,” said UA President Wilson. “Courses will be taught for the same amount of classroom time and involve the same academic rigor. They will just be organized a bit differently to allow for a more concentrated and purposeful set of experiential learning opportunities for students as a result of making Fridays available in this manner. The innovative approach is consistent with workplace flexibility trends. ”
After an in-depth review by the colleges and the Registrar’s Office, it was determined that classes that had been scheduled for three days per week (typically Monday, Wednesday and Friday) could either be offered on two days during the week – by extending the typical 50-minute class to 75 minutes – or alternatively, by moving to a Monday, Wednesday and Thursday schedule, as an example. For many years, many other courses at UA have been scheduled for two days per week (typically Tuesday and Thursday), and those will be able to continue in that manner.
For pedagogical reasons, some courses, (for example, music, dance and art) need daily engagement with students and those can continue in that way. Deans, department chairs and school directors are working with faculty members to make those types of accommodations.
Maintaining academic quality
“Five-Star Fridays is an innovation in undergraduate education, featuring real-world experience and career preparation that enhance the value of traditional course work,” said Buchtel College of Arts & Sciences Dean John C. Green. “It will give our students flexibility to complete and enhance their degrees. Our chairs and directors carefully reviewed all of our course offerings and they found that nearly all classroom instruction can be implemented on a Monday – Thursday schedule while maintaining academic quality. In the few cases where a revised schedule would be problematic, we will either maintain the current schedule or make additional arrangements.”
Since last fall, the Five-Star Fridays concept has been talked about at college and administrative unit town hall meetings on campus, at UA’s Faculty Senate and with University Council. It has been discussed among University leadership and within colleges and departments. A survey was conducted of approximately 15,000 students, with nearly 5,000 responses recorded, and conversations have been held with dozens of high school counselors and numerous high school principals.
Support for Five-Star Fridays
“We’ve received a lot of favorable feedback about the Five-Star Fridays concept,” said Wilson. “The new scheduling will assist students with their organization and class preparation, facilitate greater preparation for entering the workforce, make possible more flexible learning opportunities, and be yet another of UA’s distinguishing features for prospective and current students.”
Wilson continued, “Among many benefits, Five-Star Fridays will reduce the number of missed classes for student athletes, our elite engineering design teams, academic competition teams and other students who need to travel. It will make scheduling job and internship interviews easier for all students. UA will join departments at a number of major universities in the Washington, D.C. area, for example, that do not schedule Friday classes so that students can intern with government agencies for the entire day. When students use Five-Star Fridays wisely, it will certainly enhance their experience and increase the value of their degree.”
“After surveying thousands of students, the consensus is clear – students support the Five-Star Fridays academic week,” said Taylor Bennington, president of UA’s Undergraduate Student Government. “The idea is innovative, creative, and is just another way UA is setting itself apart in Northeast Ohio.”
The Five-Star Fridays schedule begins with the Fall 2018 semester.