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Chancellor Jim Petro wants Ohio community colleges to schedule courses in blocks, says change will improve graduation rates

The Columbus Dispatch
Students who have had trouble juggling community-college classes with work and family obligations might get some relief soon.

Chancellor Jim Petro has asked the state’s public two-year schools to consider scheduling some classes as a block, in which they are offered back-to-back at a set time. Students could take classes from 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday, for example, and earn an associate degree in 18 months — as long as they go through summer.

Block scheduling is attractive to many students because they wouldn’t have to worry about rearranging job and family responsibilities every term because of their classes, Petro said. More than 80 percent of community-college students across the country have a job, and about 60 percent work more than 20 hours per week. That can prolong their studies.

“Every extra year that students take to complete a college degree diminishes the chance they will graduate,” Petro said. “Time truly is the enemy.”

His goal is to improve the state’s graduation rate, providing skilled workers who can help turn around Ohio’s economy, he said.

An average of 9 percent of the state’s full-time community-college students graduate within three years; 56 percent of Ohio’s four-year university students earn diplomas within six years. The three- and six-year timelines are standard measures for judging college success nationwide.
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