Town Square

Stanford scheduling proposal draws student ire

Original post made on Mar 4, 2013

To address an abundance of student scheduling conflicts, Stanford University is considering a plan to spread out its class times, which may include starting more classes earlier in the day, a contentious issue to students.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 4, 2013, 9:34 AM


Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2013 at 9:58 am

Going to class at 08:30 is deplorable to 1,700 Stanford students (and presumably more who have not gotten around to signing the petition). Guess anything that gets in the way of partying at the midnight hour is the new definition of "deplorable"?

By the way, what is "double booking" classes? And how does doing away with this practice also quality as "deplorable"?

Posted by Reality
a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 4, 2013 at 9:59 am

Get over it! Real life starts before 10:00 am !!! People in real
life work long hours, including late at night, and get up early to go to work the next day.

Posted by paly parent
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Mar 4, 2013 at 10:02 am

Seriously - as a Stanford student you are losing "control over your education" because a class is scheduled at 8:30? No letting you take two classes that meet at the same time is "heavy-handed regulation"? And as students, you were not "consulted on the changes". Seriously?

Posted by Linda
a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 4, 2013 at 10:20 am

When I was a student at Stanford 50 years ago, there were lots of classes beginning at 8 am. That was the only way I could take accounting courses. This better use of classroom space makes sense.

Posted by mama
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 4, 2013 at 10:29 am

Back then no one was spoiled brat!

Posted by gcoladon
a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 4, 2013 at 10:53 am

gcoladon is a registered user.

I am quite curious to hear a good argument for allowing double-booking of classes. Is it, that if someone already knows the material, they should be able to take a class, not attend lectures, and just take the tests? If so, maybe a policy allowing easier 'testing out' of classes would be better. Is it, that teams of students get together and take notes on classes that are double-booked, and then share the notes and pack more learning into a semester than is otherwise permitted by normal class scheduling? If so, maybe it does make sense to allow double-booking.

Posted by long time resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 4, 2013 at 11:29 am

I was a commuter student in Pennsylvania and worked 3 part time jobs and my Econ 101 class was at 8:00 AM in winter. Oh, and my car heater didn't work. We just did what we had to do.
Meet the new generation of whiners.

Posted by Stanford Grad
a resident of Los Altos Hills
on Mar 4, 2013 at 11:46 am

Quick comment on double booking. I was at Stanford in the late 80s and even back then many of the engineering courses were videotaped and the lectures made available at Terman library within hours of the class. One quarter, I double booked an Engineering course with an Econ course. I attended the econ course and watched the videotapes of the Engineering course. Only issue was the scheduling of the final exams, but that worked out somehow that I don't quite recall.

Having said that, I don't agree that starting classes at 8:30 is worthy of an uprising...

Posted by jduck
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 4, 2013 at 11:56 am

Not only is the schedule change not "deplorable", the backlash is not newsworthy.

Posted by anonymous
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Mar 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Talk about living in a bubble...Stanford students complaining about 8:30AM classes and stopping this double-class-booking scheme...doesn't reflect favorably on Stanford students.
I'm with the administration on these two "issues."

Posted by Geez Loise
a resident of College Terrace
on Mar 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Get real, kids! Your parents aren't spending righteous bucks for you to party all night and sleep all morning. In the real world, you will lose your job quickly for such behavior.
Time to wake up and grow up...childhood ended the day you turned eighteen.

Posted by Katie
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 4, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Get into the real world. Your job once you are out if you graduate may start at 7:00 am. Deal with it. If high school kids can start at 8:00 am, so can college kids.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Two comments.

Stanford students are beginning to sound like the kids of helicopter and tiger parents - these battles are nonsense. They need to grow up and start fitting in with the world rather than expecting the world to revolve around them.

Anywhere other than Stanford, the early classes are the popular ones because it enables the students to get jobs in the late afternoon/evening. Waiting tables, etc. used to be the way students paid for their way through college, and some still do.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2013 at 5:03 pm

Amazing to see some of the comments from the same PA folks who vehemently oppose their high schools' curriculum, teachers, daily schedule, term dates, homework/project schedules for their kids.

Stanford hasn't been a rich kids' school for decades. The majority of students have financial aid in various forms. They may party-hearty -- they are young and have social lives They also work extremely hard, take on incredible challenges, excel in their studies, and go on to be accomplished adults.

As to the scheduling issue: a big to-do over nothing. It will be addressed and solved by the University. It's none of Palo Alto's business.

Posted by SU 83
a resident of Professorville
on Mar 4, 2013 at 6:00 pm

When I saw the headline, I thought they meant move classes LATER to 8.30. Things have changed ...

Posted by Jim
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 4, 2013 at 7:22 pm

what kind of spoiled brats are we raising and employing.
When I went to college class start time was 8 AM to 4 pm M-F and Saturdays 8-11 AM. Professors taught the classes when they were told to and not at their convenience. There were always enough sections to meet the needs of the student's major with other classes not in the major
available although times COULD be in conflict with required courses but was not a problem most of the time.

Stanford Professors and students need to grow up!!!!

Posted by Mark
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 4, 2013 at 7:58 pm

I think if you didn't go to Stanford, it can be hard to understand the idea of being double-scheduled.

As many lectures are not required, students will choose to skip one class and attend the other lecture- perhaps catching up later with what they missed using video or audio recordings (or studying with online resources provided by the lecturer). The evolution of technology has permitted students to have access to learning outside the traditional lecture hall. Students course loads can be exceptionally high because of practices like this. But there are a lot of young, intelligent individuals at Stanford who feel they can handle it.

And before people are too tempted to say that Stanford students party too hard into the night (they certainly like to do that), keep in mind that many students also study late in the night/morning, another reason why they appreciate not having early morning class.

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Mar 4, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Jim from Crescent Park et al.
Please be aware that there are few, if any, "spoiled brats" at Stanford. Slackers wouldn't last a week. Stanford students seem to know that their education is going to be their golden ticket to a successful future -- whether their goals are pursuing $$$, public service, the arts, or whatever.

The University is trying spread out their courses to reduce the pressures from the students' practice of "double booking" classes. The students are hardly avoiding work by taking 2 courses scheduled at the same time.

i've audited many regular daytime classes at Stanford, and even though I have a Ph.D., and have taught at various universities in the course of my career, I don't know if I could pass many SU courses these days. The curriculum is VERY demanding, and it is clear that the students are very engaged and prepared. Most actually have done the reading BEFORE coming to lecture. They have lots of motivation for doing so: It's too easy to get hopelessly behind.

That they double-book courses is amazing. They already jam-pack a lot into 24 hr. days. Many SU students also excel at sports or the arts. Some already run their own companies while still in school, or they have jobs. And, many students volunteer regularly in the community.

Your (and my) "when I was young" college stories are irrelevant -- except when it comes to the party dimension. SU students still have raging hormones and they manage to do all that "college life" stuff with the same dedication they give to studying.

Posted by Stanfordalum
a resident of South of Midtown
on Mar 4, 2013 at 10:23 pm

I thought the issue of 8:30 classes was that they would conflict with both 8:00 and 9:00 classes, which are popular time slots for many required classes.

Posted by Astonished
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 5, 2013 at 10:34 am

When I went to Stanford, classes began any time from 8:00 and to 4:00.

What an amazing bunch of spoiled, self-indulgent whiners. Part of an education is preparing for real life. Jobs start when the employer chooses, and if you want to sleep late, you can spend your life living with your mother...!

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on Mar 5, 2013 at 11:38 am

"spoiled self-indulgent whiners" ? Did you also walk 20 miles in the snow to get to your Stanford classes?

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 5, 2013 at 12:50 pm

Been some global warming since then...

Posted by Whining Willie
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 5, 2013 at 1:45 pm

My son goes to UC Davis, and his first class is at 7:50. At Paly he had a zero hour class, which was 7:00!

Stanford students have been told all their lives that they are so wonderful and can do no wrong. Here is proof that they can and do. Obviously they are going to face-plants in the real world.

Posted by Consider
a resident of another community
on Mar 6, 2013 at 11:37 am

The change to classes beginning no earlier than 9am has a history behind it. It wasn't done arbitrarily. It was based on the respected research done at Stanford's famed Sleep Research facilities. It was determined to be in the best interest of the students for their physical health and mental faculties. The expectations were and are that it supports all manners of positive outcomes. The change to class starts no sooner than 9a was a hard won change. I believe most of us would want such support that would allow us to be and do our best at whatever challenges we have, at whatever stage we are at. Is it likely in the world/reality as a whole- no. But the time and space at SU is an opportunity to have that level of support which may benefit not only the individual students but what they have to offer the world now and in their futures. Why bother hosting a world class Sleep Research program if the results are ignored in one of the best places to integrate them?

Posted by 100% bicycle commuter
a resident of Los Altos
on Mar 6, 2013 at 9:06 pm

I feel kind of silly posting on this topic; I think most people here were just venting, which is understandable, as life can be stressful and indeed this petition by students seems a tad entitled. But on the off chance I can help early risers understand things more clearly, here goes.

First, to be clear, but hopefully not insulting, I want to establish this basic idea. Neither waking early nor getting less sleep than is optimal is a virtue. I understand and respect people who have to get up early and with too little sleep for jobs, family life, etc., that demand it. Your sacrifice is a virtue, but the particular means of your sacrifice is not.

Here's the thing. Some people, and I include a fairly large portion of Stanford's students, have to think really hard as part of what they do. Really hard. By the way, there's no virtue in that, either; there's nothing wrong with having a job in which most or all of the time you can think at far less than your hardest. Some very important jobs don't require hard thinking, or they require more intuitive or natural thinking that doesn't require the same mental gymnastics as the types of jobs I'm thinking of. But some do. And for these, adequate -- even a seemingly entitled -- amount of sleep is perhaps the single most important thing one can do to prepare for a bout of hard thinking. (Roughly speaking, when I say "hard thinking", I mean retaining and manipulating a large set of ideas and symbols in one's head over the course of hours.)

When I was an undergrad at Stanford, I pretty much skipped all my morning classes. You might say I was spoiled, but I don't think I was. I worked very hard. It's just that there was no point in going to class early. The lecture itself would be wasted on me, and I'd compromise my ability to think when working on projects and problem sets the rest of the day and night.

One might suggest that late risers go to bed earlier. Alas, if only it were so easy. For whatever reason, some of us are what are called "night owls". I do my best thinking late at night. If I do some software architecting during the day, I'll just have to redo it that night. If I try to do some algorithm development during the day, I just make myself miserable, because thinking feels like moving large blocks around; in contrast, at night, my mind feels like a gymnast, bouncing and twirling all over the place. The only kind of programming I can do during the day is what I think of as administrative: nothing bold, but just putting the bricks in place according to the plans I've already made. I find I'm not alone in the software world in having this trait. Indeed, I imagine of all employees, software developers are cut the most slack for being latecomers. I tip my hat to the wise employers who allow this.

Now I come directly to the issue of 8:30 vs 9. If I were still a student, it wouldn't affect me. For, as I already wrote, I rarely made 9am classes anyway. In fact, it would probably help in the sense that overlaps (see next paragraph) would be rarer (which is the point of the proposed change). But I would care because it would affect my friends. People who are not truly night owls go to morning classes, and a change of half an hour will lead directly to less sleep. Perhaps not half an hour: perhaps students will slightly adjust their bedtimes to compensate. But enough will remain unchanged in the evening and at night that some sleep will be lost, I predict. So for that reason, I'm opposed to the change.

Re: overlapping classes. Overlapping classes can be important. I had to do a few when I was an undergrad. Not many, but the few I did were critical. The issue is that class schedules are generally available quarterly, so when one plans a course of study far in advance, one can't account for class meeting time. One can shift classes to other quarters, of course, but sometimes part of one's course of study is too inflexible to permit such shifting.

One other thing. Some commentors, and evidently the administrator in charge of this proposal, have appealed to wakeup times in high school. I believe this is a poor argument for two reasons. First, it's wrong in high school, so it would be wrong in college, too. Second, and more practically, high school isn't as hard as Stanford. Now, don't get me wrong: high school kids around here no doubt have to do a lot of hard thinking and would benefit greatly from getting more sleep. But in high school there's a fair amount of busy work one can slog through on little sleep. In contrast, if one chooses a challenging course of study at Stanford, it's nothing but one hard thing after another. Compare, for example, math homework in high school and college. In high school, one gets a few 10s of problems a day, and only occasionally are they challenging (supposing one has a thing for math). So one chugs through them. In an interesting Stanford math class, one gets half a dozen problems for the week. Each may take a couple of hours, or more, to solve, with lots of hard thinking and missteps along the way. (Indeed, one quickly learns that the shorter a problem set looks, the harder it's going to be.) So sleep is more important.

Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 7, 2013 at 11:02 am

Personally, I loved my 8AM classes in college. The professors always seemed more "eager" to help in the morning. It is shocking to me that people would actually protest this.