The 2019-2020 academic calendar contains many changes including longer breaks, an intersession period and semesters running longer.
Registrar Terri Vogel said the fall semester will start earlier and Thanksgiving break will be longer. Vogel compared the fall semester of 2017 and 2018.
“It (the calendar) is a result of a focus group that we conducted with faculty and students,” Vogel said. “This calendar implements some of the elements that were requested. We’ve taken stakeholders consideration into requests and we try to do the best we can.”
Usually Northwest begins classes on the last Monday of August, classes will start Wednesday, Aug. 21 this coming academic year.
Instead of Thanksgiving break beginning on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, it will be the Friday before, Nov. 22 and concludes Dec. 2. This allows students to have a week-long break.
Political Science Professor Brian Hesse said the extension of Thanksgiving break helps students and faculty with traveling during the time period. Instead of students and faculty staying for Monday and Tuesday they can leave the weekend before.
“It’s always difficult for faculty and students for traveling, in terms of deals on air tickets,” Hesse said. “I think that’s a positive with regard to the calendar that the whole Thanksgiving week is now a break.”
The winter term extends winter break and allows a four-week break compared to the normal three-week break. During this break, Northwest will offer an optional intersession period where students can take online classes to gain more credits and raise their grade point average. The winter term will offer select classes which will be determined at a later date.
The rest of the calendar has been extended with finals concluding May 8 to ensure Northwest reaches accreditation purposes due to the time lost from Thanksgiving and winter break.
Assistant Professor for History Robert Voss said the changes are beneficial so Northwest can be as competitive as other universities.
“There are some advantages to shifting the calendar around,” Voss said. “It opens up winter term which is an awesome thing and makes us similar to other universities.”
The winter intersession will offer select classes which will be determined at a later date.
Hesse said the intersession period will be effective for students to get ahead.
“I think that will be good for students and that they can continue to get credit hours so they can get through school more quickly and in the course of doing that, more economically as well,” Hesse said.
Voss said the classes during the winter intersession will be at a fast pace due to the four week time period.
“You have to be willing to commit to intense work for a few weeks if you’re thinking about squeezing in an entire semester’s worth of work down into four weeks,” said Voss. “But it gives potential opportunities for students who may need and benefit from something like that.”
Voss said the Northwest calendar is constantly changing and other universities are not as willing to change.
“It shows signs that our University is willing to change,” Voss said. “Northwest is on the cutting edge and that is a really good thing for students and a good thing for me as a professor because it ensures that students are relevant.”