Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is in the process from switching it class schedules from 15-week semesters to eight-week sessions.

The change is expected to affect 70 percent of NWTC’s course offerings by this summer and nearly all by the summer of 2021, college President Jeff Rafn said Tuesday (Feb. 11) during his annual report to the Kewaunee County Board.

“It’s not that the students are going to get less instruction or have spent less time in the classroom,” Rafn told supervisors. “It’s just they’re going to take fewer courses at a time.”

Typically a full-time students takes three or four classes in an NWTC program each semester. Under the new system, a student may take two classes in first eight weeks and another three in the second eight weeks. There will be five eight-week sessions a year.

Each class takes about the same number of hours as before but concentrated over half the time, Rafn said.

“What we have seen when we’ve already done this at the college, and what we’ve seen nationally, is when we use that model, students are more likely to complete the course, more likely to complete the program, and get their degrees and they do a better job in their coursework,” he said.

The change also adds flexibility to the schedule, he said: If a “life event” forces a student to leave a class, they don’t a full semester and can return sooner; required course offerings can be scheduled more frequently; and new high school graduates who completed first-semester work in dual-credit courses don’t have to wait until winter to start what formerly were second-semester classes.

Rafn said NWTC has had a good response from students who’ve already taken eight-week courses.

NWTC serves post-secondary students across Northeast Wisconsin with campuses in Green Bay, Sturgeon Bay and Marinette and a cluster of Regional Learning Centers, including a center in Luxemburg.

Photo: NWTC President Jeff Rafn addresses the Kewaunee County Board, joined by Lisa Maas, NWTC’s vice president of human resources, who updated the board on efforts to provide a more diverse work force.