First-time college students will be able to earn their associate of arts degrees in 18 months by taking Friday and Saturday courses at Tarrant County College starting in the summer.
TCC is rolling out a Weekend College Program at its Trinity River Campus in downtown Fort Worth that will fast-track students to associate of arts degrees by placing them in cohorts, or group of people on the same track.
The two-year college will open registration April 15 for 24 students to be placed in an accelerated cohort system, a concept traditionally seen in graduate courses, campus President Tahita Fulkerson said.
Students selected for the cohort will take the same two classes on Friday nights and Saturday mornings and afternoons. After eight weeks they’ll move on to the next two classes.
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“One thing we found in research is that many students take more classes than they need. What this program aims at doing, is by providing [select] courses they know which ones to take next,” said Carlos Morales, president of TCC Connect, the program’s administrative unit.
Weekend College will be 50 percent face-to-face classroom instruction and 50 percent online courses, Morales said. The first classes will start May 30, and part- full-time faculty members will teach. Students will have access to the same services offered during the week, he said.
Students will only have to register for the two pre-determined courses, like English I and History I, and will take a standard course schedule made up of core classes, humanities, arts and sciences.
TCC already offers weekend classes, but this will bring students together in a formulated way so they can work with other students on the same path toward completion, TCC spokeswoman Rita Parson said.
After eight weeks the system will rotate in a new cohort, and students will in effect graduate on time, together.
Fulkerson said students tend to concentrate better with eight-week schedules than traditional 16-week semesters.
“It’s so much easier to have that focus, that concentration,” she said. “Research nationally shows this is true. Shorter terms more focused on content and the building of community helps them meet deadlines.”
Trinity River Campus was chose as the pilot because of its central location, hours of operation and support services, she said.
The university is also rolling out a Spanish-language cohort in the fall.
“Students will see that they can probably manage more than they thought they could,” she said. “We want the cohort concept embraced so happily that students in regular terms start demanding it.”