The 8-Week Advantage

We believe you are meant to be bold and fly high.

But we get it, life happens—work, family responsibilities and unforeseen circumstances. Navigating obstacles while trying to take multiple courses can quickly derail an entire 16-week semester.

This is where the COM 8-week Advantage can help! Our 8-week sessions allow students to balance their educational and life commitments. Students take half the courses they would during a 16-week semester, which means if an unforeseen circumstance happens, the entire semester is not lost. And with multiple start dates throughout the year, students can easily re-enroll in the next session.

Student at graduation receiving her diploma

What is the COM 8‑Week Advantage?

Beginning in the fall of 2024, the majority of 3‑hour courses at COM will switch to an 8-week format from the longstanding 16-week format. The fall and spring semesters will be split in half with a first 8-week and second 8-week session.

When possible, students will take 8‑week courses instead of 16‑week courses, allowing them to focus on just two or three courses at a time. Students will still be able to complete the same number of hours across 16 weeks with the new 8‑week format.

This new format will help students stay on track and graduate on time. The COM 8‑Week Advantage will ensure you stay on a path toward success!

The Benefits are Huge!

Studies show the benefits of 8‑week semesters are tremendous compared to the traditional 16‑week format.

Top Four benefits of the COM 8‑Week Advantage

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Focus

Avoid burnout, feeling overwhelmed and trying to juggle multiple subjects and assignments. Students will be able to focus on fewer subjects and complete the same number of hours they would over a 16-week semester.

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Momentum

Students are more likely to stay on track, pass their courses and keep going until graduation. Research across the country clearly shows increased graduation rates among students taking 8-week sessions.

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Flexibility

Students will have more balance and flexibility with managing life responsibilities while still prioritizing their education.

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Status

Part-time students can become full-time by taking two courses during each 8-week session, which provides numerous benefits from financial aid to providing proof of insurance and more.

Group of students outside smiling and waving.

What About Financial Aid?

With this new 8-week format, students will still be able to receive financial aid like they do with 16-week semesters. The only change will be with the disbursement schedules. Registration will work the same way as with 16-week semesters. Students will receive financial aid disbursements to cover each session for which they have registered.

Students will still be able to complete the same number of hours across two, 8-week sessions as they would throughout a 16-week semester.

What’s even better is that part-time students will have the ability at becoming full-time by simply taking two courses during each 8-week session, which provides numerous benefits for those requiring financial aid.

New 8-Week Format

Fall/Spring Semester

8-Week Session I

8-Week Session II

16-Week Session

Summer

8-Week Session

10-Week Session

Frequently Asked Questions

How do 8-week courses work?

Students would still be taking their desired number of hours total across a 16-week semester, only they would take half in the first eight weeks and the other half in the second.

Is the success of 8-week courses proven?

Students enrolled in select 8-week format courses with appropriate student and institutional support have similar or improved outcomes over those enrolled in traditional 16-week format courses.

Why is the 8-week model so great?

With the COM 8-Week Advantage, students will be able to focus on fewer courses at once. They would still be taking their desired number of hours total across a 16-week semester, only they would take half in the first eight weeks and the other half in the second. For some programs and courses, the 8-week model has proven to have equivalent, and sometimes enhanced, outcomes when compared to 16-week semester. Research does show that students are more likely to stay on track and graduate with the 8-week model.

Will the 8-week session help me graduate faster?

While the COM 8-Week Advantage is not designed to help students graduate faster, it does create an environment where they are more likely to stay on track, pass their courses and keep going until graduation. Research across the country clearly shows increased graduation rates among students taking 8-week courses. One great benefit of the 8-week session is that it allows students to focus on fewer courses at once.

Do I need to enroll in 8-week session within each term (semester) at the same time?

Yes. If you are using financial aid, we encourage students to enroll in 8-week terms within each session. This is also applicable for those who require proof of full-time status for insurance, housing, military service, etc.

Will 8-week courses be easier or more difficult?

Every student learns differently. However, the 8-week session will offer students a better experience as it allows them to focus on fewer courses at a time. Students will be expected to complete the same amount of contact hours and learn the same amount of content during an 8-week session as they would in the traditional 16-week semester.

Will I spend the same amount of time in class?

Students will be expected to complete the same amount of contact hours and learn the same amount of content during an 8-week session as they would in the traditional 16-week semester. To fulfill the necessary requirements, there may be different class options made available (online vs. face-to-face), more coursework and/or longer individual class meeting times. Just remember that you’ll be taking half the hours/courses as you normally would during a 16-week semester.

How many courses can I take in an 8-week session?

When possible, students should take at least two courses per 8-week session. A student can attempt a maximum of 10 credit hours per 8-week session.

When do I register for courses?

Registration timelines will not change from the current schedule. Registration for Fall opens in April and ends in October, and Spring registration opens in November and ends in March.

If a student registers for courses in the 1st and 2nd 8-week session, when do they pay for those courses?

The tuition payment deadline for 8-week session will remain the same as for the current 16-week format. Students will be required to pay, or make payment plan/ financial aid arrangements, for their classes before 5 p.m. on the payment due date to avoid being dropped from their class(es).

Is class workload affected by the 8-week format?

Due to the accelerated nature of an 8-week course, workload is double that of a 16-week course per week. However, since a student is enrolled in fewer courses (2-3) per 8-week session, the total workload over a semester remains the same for both 8-week and 16-week formats.

Will the cost of courses change?

COM has no plans to increase tuition; however, for the 24-25 academic year, tuition and fees will be assessed as a flat rate per credit hour. This flat rate will include tuition and all required fees and will be assessed on a per credit hour basis. This means there will be no more “minimum tuition.”

Is COM the only local community college doing 8-week courses, or is it becoming common across many schools?

Many community colleges across the country are transitioning to an 8-week, or shorter, format. The reason for this is because the research clearly shows that shorter sessions provide students with a better educational experience and yield higher rates of student success - both in terms of grades and graduation rates.

Will my financial aid be affected if I take 8-week courses?

No, financial aid is awarded based on full-time enrollment, or 12 credit hours, and is adjusted according to the actual enrollment at the census date (6th day of class) of each 8-week session.

Will the 8-week courses be worth the same credit hours as the 16-week courses?

Yes, credit hours will not change, but the frequency of when you attend class during an 8-week session will.

Will these credits still transfer to a 4-year institution?

Yes.

How does this affect part-time students?

The 8-week format would allow part-time students to become full-time status while only having to focus on two courses per term.

How does this affect full-time students?

The 8-week format will still enable full-time students to maintain their current coursework. However, since they will be taking half the courses they would during a traditional 16-week semester, students will experience less stress and the possibility of burnout.

I am a high school student taking dual credit classes. Will this affect me?

Students taking dual credit courses at their high school will continue following a 16-week semester format to align with the high school bell schedule. Students taking dual credit courses on a COM campus will take 8-week courses. Students taking online dual credit courses may take 8- or 16-week courses, depending on what is offered each semester.

Will my VA benefits be affected if I take 8-week courses?

As long as students take six credit hours, with at least one face-to-face, during an 8-week session, they will be considered full-time for that session. Visit the VA website for more information.

VA Benefits

For all VA benefits – Chapters. 30,31,33 and 35 – the rate of pursuit can be affected, which can cause a change in your Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) or monthly stipend. (Textbook stipends and tuition payments from VA to the College remain unchanged.)

  • For the Post 9/11 (Ch. 33) benefit, students must take a minimum of four credit hours in an 8-week session, with at least one credit hour in a face-to-face course, to receive any basic housing allowance. If all four credit hours are taken online, the BAH would be 50% of the national BAH average.
  • Please note: If you are enrolled for both 8-week sessions you will need to verify your attendance with the VA at the end of the first, 8-week session. Make sure to select "still attending." This also applies if you are currently enrolled in a 16-week course.
  • For Ch. 30 and 35, three credit hours in an 8-week session will be paid at 50% of your monthly stipend.
  • For Ch. 31, please check with your VR&E counselor

You will only receive BAH for both 8-week sessions if you take at least four credit hours, with at least one credit hour being face-to-face, in each session.

Hazelwood Exemption

There will be no effect on Hazlewood benefits.

How will this impact students with disabilities?

Students with disabilities enrolled in any of our courses, including 8-week, may request accommodations through our Disability Services office

8-Week Glossary of Terms

Session

Each 8-week block is referred to as a session. There are two 8-week sessions within one, 16-week semester.

Semester

A semester is a 16-week block of time. 

Course

A course is a class offered by the College.

Format

This word is used to describe a model or structure (e.g., an 8-week vs 16-week format)

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