Albany Technical College has a hit with split semesters aimed at helping students balance work, family and education

Albany Technical College began its spring semester this week.

ALBANY — Albany Technical College officials believe the college has a success with its “Success Terms” initiative that splits the traditional 15-week semester into two seven-week terms for some course offerings.

Albany Tech introduced the concept for the fall 2019 semester in an effort to make it easier for nontraditional students to begin, and complete, their education. The spring semester that started Monday is the second since the initiative began.

Albany Tech plans eventually to offer at least 70 percent of courses in the new seven-week format.

“Improving student success is the goal,” Albany Tech officials said in a Sunday news release. “This change is showing positive outcomes for students and allowing them to enter the work force at a steadier rate.

“Some classes of study with program accreditation and/or lengthier contact hour requirements will remain in the 15-week semester format. Both semesters, fall and spring, have seen increases in overall average hours each student is taking per semester.”

Albany Tech reported that total enrollment for fall 2019 was up by 3.3 percent from fall 2018. Total credit hours increased by 3.4 percent in fall 2019 from the previous year.

Albany Tech was the first of the schools within the Technical College System of Georgia to adopt the new “seven-plus-seven” semester offerings. It creates six opportunities during an academic year for students to start classes, rather than the three entry points available in a traditional semester format.

“Potential students will never be too far away from the next set of starting classes,” Albany Tech President Anthony Parker said. “The seven-week format will allow our students to take classes and earn credits more frequently. The idea is that with fewer classes to focus on per seven-week period; a student can balance going to school with all of the other thing’s life throws into the mix.”

In addition to multiple entry points per semester, college officials say research shows that the new format can improve student performance with fewer subjects to focus on per seven-week period, increase the number of credit hours a student can earn per period, and provide employers with employees more frequently each year.

“In the conventional semester system, a typical, non-traditional student might be managing multiple jobs, family responsibilities, and taking four or even five classes,” Parker concluded. “With the new system, the course load will be lowered to two classes, making life more manageable.”

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