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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Conn Coll chapter.

In response to the COVID pandemic guidelines, Connecticut College decided to implement a module system for classes in place of the traditional full semester classes. While normally, students take four, 15-week classes per semester, under the module system, students would take two 7.5-week “module” classes at a time, with two modules, 7.5-week sessions, in the semester. 

In theory, the module system was meant to limit the amount of peers students were exposed to and to “lessen” the work load during these already difficult times. In a perfect world, a student would take two classes in the first seven and a half weeks, take finals for those classes, then start the next two classes rounding out the semester. Each class would be meet double its regular time, so a class that met for 75 minutes twice a week before, now met for 3 hours (150 minutes) twice a week or 75 minutes four times a week. Yeah… 

But things that work in theory don’t always work so well in practice. In practice, not all professors were required to adhere to the module design. Each department generally decided whether or not the classes they offered would be modules or full-semester classes. The entire class schedule changed meaning that we had to register (again) for classes in August right before the semester was supposed to start. Classes overlapped, which meant frantically trying to figure out a new schedule. Many students has an odd mixture of module and semester class, which completely voided the inital design of the system. 

So, as we finish our first set of finals (yes, finals… in October. Our next finals will be just days before Christmas), we are exhausted and have some very strong thoughts about this system, though not all bad. Conn definitely had their heart in the right place, but here are some thoughts from us about why the modules have been particularly difficult.

Thoughts from Elizabeth Berry, ’21:

When I first heard Connecticut College’s plan to have a module system alongside the regular semester schedule in an attempt to better the academic calendar during COVID, I was worried students’ workload would feel much more “high school” than “college” with more frequent class times and more work. I was enrolled in two module classes this semester: a 300-level English course and 2-credit mandatory course to become a tutor at Conn, on top of a 400-level Italian course, my Independent Study, and a 2-credit seminar course for the Toor Cummings Center of International Studies and the Liberal Arts (CISLA). Needless to say, most weeks were consumed with work, and most mornings I woke up feeling as exhausted as I had once felt while in high school. While my professors made the module courses manageable, the mix of quarter and semester classes makes for a heavy workload and busy schedule, on top of extracurricular activities and leadership positions. I hope that next semester I will not have to take a module course as while I understand the reasoning, the stress most students feel due to this decision outweighs the pros. 

Thoughts from Elyce Afrifa, ’22:

The module system in theory was a good idea. The original purpose of it was to minimize traffic to and from classes because the school’s intention was to have mostly in person classes. Unfortunately, many teachers made the decision to hold classes remotely and some classes don’t work in a modular system, so there were many semester classes happening anyway. As you can guess, the whole module idea became merely a burden with midterms and finals at the same time and everything being more complicated. Luckily, I only have one modular course and the class itself wasn’t too stressful. Now for the second module, I am only taking three semester classes so it will be a lighter load than normal (although organic chemistry should count for 5 classes). So for me it wasn’t bad because most of my classes were semester classes—as they should be. Either way, I think the consensus is, the modular system needs to go.

Thoughts from Samantha Barth, ’21: 

I had a vendetta against the module system from the beginning because along with introducing the module system, the college rearranged the class schedule. As a senior trying to finish up two majors, the last thing I wanted to worry about at the end of the summer was signing up for classes. My brother, who is currently a freshman in college, registered for classes before me. The reasoning behind the module system confused me, and it seemed like the college could not fully justify it. In the initial email introducing the module system, they said that taking fewer classes at a time would allow people to reduce their contact with others. But during our class’s town hall, one of the Deans said that taking fewer classes at a time would help us feel less stressed and manage our workload when classes moved online. Already, the logic was shaky, and switching to the module system seemed like more work and effort than it was worth. But whatever justification there was for the module system gets completely thrown out the window, because not every class was a module class—there was a mix of module classes and semester classes, and at least in the departments that I take classes in, most of the module classes were module 1. That’s how I ended up with three full-semester classes, one module 1 class, and one module 1 two-credit class for my Pathway. Instead of feeling a lighter workload, it felt like I was taking five and a half classes instead of four and a half because the module 1 class went at a faster pace, with double the work assigned per week to compensate for the accelerated pace. Even if a student was to magically have a perfectly-balanced schedule, taking two module classes during module 1 and two module classes during module 2, the workload would still be equivalent to four classes, making the module system at its best, the same amount of stress as a normal semester. Additionally, finals for module 1 felt really rushed—I don’t think the three day finals period took into account the fact that at this point in the semester, the full-semester classes would be assigning midterms as well.

Thoughts from Elizabeth Vinson, ’21: 

I was one of the lucky students in this module system. I managed to sign up for two courses in the first module, and two courses in the second module. I also have a 2-credit Pathway course, but honestly, it only meets once a week and there’s only one course-long project, so let’s not count that. Let’s start by saying that 3 out of 4 of these classes were 300-level English classes, meaning my life was an endless cycle of reading and writing papers. The biggest problem for me with the module system is the way the classes are schedule. I only had classes two days a week, but those two days including spending 6 hours on a screen: 3 hours in the first class, then 3 hours in the second class. Back to back. This class structures inevitably led to an immense amount of fatigue, plus it seemed like even with the 3 hours (which was essentially two class sessions at once), I felt like we never fully discussed or digested the readings. My professors definitely did everything they could to make the system work, but despite all of their hard efforts, everything felt rushed and disjointed. It’s already hard enough to read and comprehend at the college-pace, but this system made it nearly impossible. But I don’t want to completely discredit the system. Although I definitely agree that I will try not to take module classes in the future, it freed up three other days in my week, which allowed me to extend my summer internship into fall. So, maybe all of my stress didn’t come from the modules, and it was definitely designed with good intentions, but I think it’s safe to say, that the module system is not here to stay once COVID’s social distancing requirements are no longer necessary. 

If you feel like us, and you are becoming increasingly frustrated with the modules (even though we have only finished the first set), remember that you aren’t alone. Everyone is feeling an increased amount of pressure and stress. Not to mention how this drastic change coincides with a particularly difficult time for the nation. Try to find some time for yourself and some self-care. COVID has created the need for a lot of modifications, and while not all of them work as well as others, our goal has to be staying safe as we finish our classes as well as staying healthy and prioritizing your own mental health and well-being.

Elizabeth Berry

Conn Coll '21

Elizabeth Berry is an English and Italian Studies double major at Connecticut College with a passion for journalism. She enjoys overnight oats, traveling to new cities, and reading the night away.
Elyce Afrifa

Conn Coll '22

I was born and raised in Bronx, NY. I attended Herbert H Lehman High School where she participated in an acting club. I currently attend Connecticut College in New London, CT where I plans to major in biology and minor in theater. I am also on the Women's Rugby Team and apart of Wig and Candle the acting club here. I also am a big fan of many TV shows, Shameless, The Flash and Big Brother to name a few.
Samantha is a senior at Connecticut College, double-majoring in Sociology and Economics. She is currently the Beauty Section Editor and a National Writer for Her Campus, having prior been a Beauty Editorial Intern during the summer of 2019. She is also a writer and Co-Campus Correspondent for Her Campus Conn Coll. She is passionate about intersectional feminism, puns, and sitcoms with strong female leads.
Elizabeth, originally from just outside of Chicago, is a senior graduating early from Connecticut College where she is majoring in English with Psychology and History minors. She has an insatiable appetite for a compelling story and hopes to use that passion to pursue a career in publishing in a big city. If she’s not reading or writing another essay, she is binge-watching a new TV series, scrolling through Pinterest, baking cookies, or hanging out with family and friends.
Her Campus Conn Coll