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Morning classes fail to facilitate learning

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Early morning classes fail to help Whitman students get the education we are paying for. The lifestyle dictated to students by the college atmosphere is such that it is impossible to get a necessary amount of sleep before an 8 a.m. class.  

There are reasons for the existence of 8 a.m. classes. Most notable of these is that for the science departments to function properly, classes must be held in the morning so that labs can fit in the afternoon. That’s fair, but let us now offer a few alternative reasons why these early classes shouldn’t exist.

First, the college lifestyle makes it impossible to learn at 8 a.m. Regardless of whether or not a person likes going to bed early and waking up early, it is impossible to get the necessary amount of sleep in a college dorm if you have to wake up at 7 a.m. for class.

The dorms are noisy and busy until late at night. Friends are coming in and out. Doors are being slammed all around. And perhaps most importantly, homework is rarely started before well into the evening. All these together add up to an inability to even try to go to sleep before 11 or midnight at night at the earliest.

Homework especially can often be the downfall of many good-intentioned Whitman students. With the amount of classes, sports, jobs and extracurricular the average Whittie has on his or her schedule, it becomes almost impossible to even start homework until well into the night.

With only seven hours of sleep at best a night for three or four nights in a row, it can become increasingly difficult to stay awake, much less pay attention during an early morning class.

Second, these very early classes do not seem as necessary as the science department especially seems to argue.  

It is only possible to take 18 credits at Whitman in a given semester. This roughly translates into four full time classes per semester per student. Currently it is possible to take class at 8, 9, 10 and 11 a.m. which allows the science and other students to take all four of their classes in the morning and leave that afternoon for labs.

However, it is the extraordinarily rare person who takes four science classes in any one semester. And since each of these early classes generally only have one lab each, at most, this leaves the possibility of many different options for afternoon classes that fall during times that the student is not in a lab.

These afternoon classes would offer a time when students would be awake and attentive and would thus learn more in the class. Currently, the early classes are a way to try to fit one more spot of class times in the morning at the expense of learning for the average college student who has to take them.

Third and finally, a national move toward abolishing 8 a.m. classes can now be observed at undergraduate colleges and universities. Middlebury, PSU and Western have all published similar editorials declaring why these early classes should be abolished at their respective schools.  

This is not just Whitman college students whining about getting up early. This is an actual problem that many schools are beginning to deal with.

There is real evidence and reason to convince a large number of colleges and universities that very early classes fail to impart the same amount of information on their students as later classes.

These early morning classes at the very least need to be reevaluated. Is it really smarter to have an 8 a.m. class than it is to have a 4-5 p.m. class? Is there really a reason why we have to get up for a class that doesn’t really teach us as well anyway?

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Morning classes fail to facilitate learning