Boredom induced by COVID-19 regulations has left many Zags without plans or prospects for their weekend. One-credit weekend classes offered by Gonzaga's School of Business Administration are a solution. Although these courses have been offered since the fall of 2015, they are more relevant than ever with students looking for weekend activities.
Molly Pepper, the associate dean for undergraduate programs in the business school, said the main motivation for offering these classes is to help the business school build community outside of campus with Spokane business leaders and companies.
The classes allow students to dive into greater depth on topics that aren’t as thoroughly covered in a normal course.
“The first three classes were on effective communication, negotiation and image and reputation management," Pepper said. "Those are three things that we cover in our classes, but don’t have a lot of time to go into depth on."
One-credit courses require 15 “contact” hours that are spread throughout Friday, Saturday and Sunday. However, 17 hours are scheduled throughout the weekend to allow students to take breaks. Besides a final project completed after the weekend, all coursework is done over the weekend.
For professor Stephanie Rockwell, the class is an opportunity for an intensive weekend of immersion in a discipline.
“I’m able to connect all the dots in one intensive moment from data points all the way to the final product," Rockwell said.
Rockwell teaches a consumer behavior course for the marketing department in the spring. Pepper reached out to her to see if she would want to teach an additional class on the weekend. As the assistant vice president for operations and fundraising strategy at GU, the choice of topic was an easy one.
“It was so obvious to do something for nonprofit marketing and fundraising. There are skills that you can take into future jobs that students will go into," Rockwell said.
Rockwell said the biggest benefit of a one-credit weekend course is that the intensive nature allows students to feel like an expert by the end of the weekend because of the exposure to each important element of a subject.
As a GU graduate with a master's in organizational leadership, Rockwell regrets that similar classes weren’t offered when she was an undergraduate student at Whitworth University.
“Having exposure to more disciplines is an amazing part of a liberal arts education," Rockwell said. "You’re able to dabble with other elements of a discipline which can be really helpful to clarifying steps after college."
Class offerings are widespread regarding topic and discipline. This semester, courses include Economics of the Side Hustle, Gender in the Workplace and Holocaust Education in Action. All classes are 200-level classes and are graded on a normal semester-long scale.
Like many freshman, current senior Kaylee Willbrandt didn’t know what she wanted to major in. Then Willbrandt received unexpected guidance and direction from a one-credit weekend class that she enrolled in.
“My freshman year I just took the class to boost my credits but it helped me realize why I was majoring in marketing and convinced me to add a concentration in human resources," Willbrandt said.
Due to the pandemic, classes are held over Zoom which brings a new set of benefits and challenges. Willbrandt has taken two one-credit courses online and one in person.
“It’s definitely different being online," Willbrandt said. "It’s hard to stay engaged for 16 hours over Zoom.”
One-credit weekend courses are intensive because of the short window of instruction.
“They cram a lot of information into the weekend,” Willbrandt said. “It’s sort of an overwhelming amount of information to retain.”
Despite these challenges, Willbrandt is still convinced that one-credit courses are a positive experience.
“You’re in college for more than a piece of paper," Willbrandt said. "These classes are more applicable to situations you’ll encounter in the real world.”
Willbrandt said her favorite part of the class is that there are people from all different majors and years in any given class.
"I got to meet other people at different points in their college careers," Willbrandt said.
Three of the eight classes offered this semester have already taken place, but popular classes are typically offered again in the spring semester. Remaining classes this fall include Valuation Analysis, Non-Profit Fundraising and Marketing, Introduction to Non-Profits, Leadership and Management in Non-Profits and Holocaust Education in Action.
Prior to the beginning of the academic year, students can register for courses through Zagweb. Once the year has begun, students can register for a weekend class by calling the Registrar’s Office.
Willbrandt said it's definitely worth it for a student to give up their weekend to take a course.
“You have to plan around it, but it’s not a lot of extra homework and isn’t a burden," Willbrandt said. "You can still do fun things and get other things done.”