What Should You Expect as a New CIT Major?
Whether you are new to the college experience, a seasoned WKU veteran, or a transfer student from another institution, it’s important to know what to expect — and what will be expected of you. Of all the information that you get about the CIT program, this is some that you carefully need to consider. We will try to explain the way in which classes are conducted, how lab activities are managed, the time commitment that CIT will require, and what students should expect of each other.
A wise person once defined “Surprise” as being the difference between our expectations and the reality that we experience. No one likes to be surprised and CIT students don’t need to be.
WHAT’S IN STORE
If you have taken college classes in the past — be prepared for some surprise. On-Line education is different and CIT courses will be very different.
Most college students believe that most of their time should be spent attending a class (listening to a lecture). They will study some the night before an exam or work on a project as its due date nears. However, class attendance is the primary focus...and has been since each of us was in Kindergarten.
In an on-line course, there is no “class time” per se. Your CIT professors will make lecture material available on-line, but these won’t be the focus of the class. Lectures have their place, but they are not the best way for adults to learn. We will use lectures to introduce concepts, define terms, establish context, and provide some tutorials. Beyond that, CIT courses will requires the students to take responsibility for their own learning.
You should expect you professor to provide you with a detailed outline of class activities. Each week, you will be expected to read (both from the text as well as other sources), discuss issues with others in the class, work on projects — and generally immerse yourself in the topic being covered.
Adult learners typically do best by “doing” what they are trying to learn. You can expect that each of your classes will involve a lot of lab activities and projects. Each student in the CIT program will create their own virtual computer laboratory or be able to link their PCs to the CIT server network. These projects may require many hours or days to complete.
Research over the past 40 years has also shown that adults also learn better (and remember longer) if they can move their learning from the ‘passive’ to the ‘active’. One of the most effective learning techniques is to have students formulate opinions about an issue, present those ideas, discuss/debate and defend them. This technique has long been used in Law Schools and each CIT class will have a discussion element as well. You will find that you get to know your “virtual” classmates really well — even though you may never physically meet them.
HOW MUCH TIME WILL IT TAKE?
The old rule of thumb for college classes is that students should spend 2-3 hours outside of class for every hour in class. This means about 3-4 hours per week...per credit hour in their schedule. This is why 15 credits are considered to be a “Full-Time” load.
“What? I never spent 9 hours working outside of class all semester — much less in a week...” That might have been the case in High School, your GenEd classes, or the school that you transferred from. It can’t be the case in CIT. Information Tech is a huge field and employers now expect our students to be proficient with many different technologies. You won’t be able to master all of the things that you need to without investing the time into each class. Students looking for a quick-and-easy credential will be unhappy with Western’s CIT program. Our degree is not a spectator sport.
Each CIT class will typically require regular participation throughout the week. Students will not be able to completely off-load all of their time to the weekend. Plan on spending at least 30-minutes per day per class at a minimum. The rest of the work can be completed on your schedule.
Most CIT classes will also require a variety of hands-on laboratory activities. You will likely find that these require larger blocks of uninterrupted time. It’s hard to start something substantial and then work on it for an hour here and there. CIT students all figure out when their schedules allow this “brain time”. For some it’s late at night. Some like to work early in the a.m. Others will set aside one day each week to work on their assignments. Everyone needs to discover what works best for them!
For most students, the secret to success in an on-line program of study is Time Management. With all of the schedule flexibility it’s sometimes easy to let things go and get behind. Here are some tips that our top students have passed along:
- Get yourself a calendar or schedule book. At the beginning of each class copy the deadlines from the syllabus into your calendar. Refer to this daily!
- Schedule time to participate in class every day. As little as 30 minutes would be fine. This helps you to stay connected with your courses.
- Create a “work area” where you can complete your studies. A comfortable chair, big table and good lighting are key. Get in the habit of always doing your schoolwork in this work area.
- Carve out big blocks of time for your lab activities. For most students this will be sometime during the weekend. Try to schedule yourself a minimum of 4 hours when you can work undisturbed. 6+ hours—even better!
- Do whatever it takes to stay on track. If you fall behind schedule it’s often very difficult to get caught up. Go to bed late, get up early, turn off the TV, let the lawn grow...