Photo Courtesy of Babson.edu
As you may know, all Babson students experience the luxury of having a Friday that is free from classes. Traditionally, Babson offers classes Monday through Thursday, limiting the class selection on Fridays to only two to three courses. This four-day workweek is unique to Babson, as many other U.S. colleges regularly implement the five-day workweek schedule. Babson students appreciate the availability of an extra day and utilize the time for networking, preparing for class, participating in extracurricular activities, and meeting with faculty. However, there is a discussion surrounding the potential removal of these unoccupied Fridays. Students and faculty have spread the word of this conversation and have been speculating over the reality of this circulation.
Professor Michele Kerrigan, who works on the administrative side of academic scheduling and course selection, presents her knowledge on potential impacts of the administration’s decision to remove Babson Fridays. Kerrigan unpacks the reasoning behind potentially extending the workweek and provides background context on the implementation of a four-day workweek.
Prof. Kerrigan's LinkedIn Page
The implied explanation for limited class offerings on Fridays, one that students accept agreeably, is that this class-free day serves as an excess meeting time for business groups enrolled in the Foundations of Management and Entrepreneurship (FME) course. Kerrigan recalls a time when the course was two days a week with a lab on Friday, allocating studio time for students to construct their businesses. This translated into the current four-day workweek with the underlying assumption by students that it is strictly for FME purposes.
In reality, the current workweek model relies on much more. As Kerrigan explained, the scheduling of classes “operates in terms of class availability.” The college’s main concern is to create a better classroom experience for its students, through the greater availability of courses and the further implementation of the useful curriculum.
Dean Major's LinkedIn Page
The conversation surrounding Babson Fridays arises due to other relevant academic planning changes. Robert Major, Director of Academic Services and Associate Dean at Babson College and a member of the Babson community for 26 years, is familiar with this constantly raised subject to expand the course selection to include Fridays. He clarifies how the opportunity to maximize college resources drives the suggestion of implementing additional Friday courses. “Essentially, it's not about the day, but what Babson College can do with the resources available on that day,” he states.
"The potential change in our schedule is always being discussed when the College must utilize more of its resources,” he explains, “The next question is ‘why can’t we use Fridays?’”
Interestingly enough, there are many reasons faculty and students protest against the implementation of more Friday courses to the Babson schedule. Fridays tend to incorporate both non-academic and academic events. Students utilize this time for extracurricular activities, work, projects, or assignments. Babson’s Fridays include Cradles to Crayons programming, First Year Fridays from the CCD, socializing CAB events that spark school pride, and additional intensive electives for students.
However, this three-day weekend not only benefits students but also the faculty gain extra time for additional work in their week. Both Dean Brian Duggan and Director Major note that faculty use the additional day for course planning or research, often enhancing the quality of their lectures.
The college examines change across the board and revisits the scheduling of courses due to recent curriculum discussions. Multiple factors, aside from curriculum, play into the possibility of rescheduling of Babson’s week. For example, Professor Kerrigan details the growing undergraduate population and the limitations that this may incur on class availability, reducing the resources accessible per student. The idea of offering more courses on Fridays goes beyond the simple arrangement of a four-day workweek in comparison to a five-day frame.
Increasing the number of courses offered on Fridays spreads and allocates the class times throughout the week, shortening the time a class meets each day, freeing up classrooms for other courses. Dean Duggan remarks that the longer stretch in a week benefits certain students more than the four-day workweek with a three-day gap, allowing them to meet with faculty more often.
It is important to note that the speculation of Babson College creating additional loads of courses on Fridays is the only speculation. The switch to a five-day workweek, if any, would not occur overnight, or even over a year. Director Major assures that any administrative change of this nature is well thought out and all constituencies are considered when shifting the system of our week. Students and faculty are accustomed to the current scheduling, but together, the community can adjust over time.
For example, Professor Kerrigan describes a current marketing course offering in the Boston campus one semester on Fridays. The course educates students in the middle of the financial district and provides ample time to explore sites nearby. Although Babson cannot organize courses in Boston for most classes, professors and administration continually work to experiment with creative programming and draw inspiration from other colleges. Kerrigan emphasizes that college needs to “go big or go home” and it must be “the right faculty and the right course” for students and faculty to willingly engage in more Friday classes. Aside from the actual content of the lectures, the structure of an academic day must explore differentiated models. Dean Duggan suggests playing around with a variety of scheduling models to maximize individual student’s learning.
We can contemplate how to adjust to a new schedule, but it’s important to remember that this change might never come. Babson College may operate better with a five-day workweek, or it may not. This thought swings back and forth in relevancy spotlighted one year and forgotten during another.
Director Major leaves us with this question: “what is the best way to educate our students?” The large spectrum of responses provides no right answer, only innovative ones to consider at hand.
Article by Noorjahan Mezrouh
Edited by Lauren Park
The views expressed herein are attributed to their authors and not to this publication nor Babson College. The materials appearing in this publication are for information purposes only.