What's the Difference?

There are two main reasons Harper's CSC department has begun running its mid-to-upper level courses as Open Entry: being able to run the courses and transferability.

It has been difficult for several years to meet minimum enrollments so that middle level or upper level CSC courses would be able to run regularly. The two best ways to fix this within Harper's course 'style' options were Open Entry and Independent Study.

It would seem that Independent Study would be the ideal solution: students would [most likely] have heard of that type of course offering before and ...well, technically, it would be the correct offering format to use for such situations. However, an Independent Study course would not appear on your transcript in any meaningful way. They are typically labeled as 'CSC ### Indep Study' (or some such nonsense). This can not only make transferring them to another school difficult but also may prove tricky during job interviews/reviews later on.

Then came along the idea of Open Entry courses. In these courses, students can start whenever they like during the semester and would have a full semester's time span to finish the work. So the Open Entry student gets the same amount of time to finish as a regular face-to-face classroom student would get, but they can start the course when they are ready. It seems like an excellent option! Even at a second glance, a transcript will bear the actual name and number of the course taken instead of some generic gibberish!

But there is one fairly obvious flaw in the plan: a student signing up after the middle of the term and expecting to be allowed to finish late in the following semester. This is a book-keeping nightmare!

A second less obvious trouble with Open Entry courses is that students could sign up for the same course at different times during the semester: week 1, week 3, week 4, etc. Then the instructor has three or more students taking the same course but all are at different points in the material!

Still, the vices outweigh the virtues (especially since they are all on the school's end and not the students' *smile*), so we of the CSC department have decided to test the Open Entry concept for CSC 211, CSC 214, CSC 216, and CSC 217.

Why Can't I See the Course/Sign Up?

In order to help alleviate the possible difficulties mentioned above, Open Entry sections of courses are created with 0 maximum enrollment. This means they no matter how diligent and qualified a student, they'll have to get an Override form filled out to sign up for the class. This allows the instructor to stop students from enrolling when they don't have proper preparation to meet course pre-requisites, of course. They can also deny the Override to a student who is trying to sign up past midterm. And, since Open Entry courses are staffed beyond/outside of normal contractual requirements, the instructor can stop allowing Overrides when s/he simply has too many students already.

Unfortunately, this has the side-effect with the online registration system of causing the Open Entry sections to appear 'full' (since they have no enrollment allowed, it sees it as them having no room for more students to enroll). And, of course, the default selection in the course schedule search is for 'open' sections as opposed to 'all' sections. (*sigh*) This effectively hides the entire course from prospective students!

It would also seem that the online registration system won't list a course once it has 'begun' whether or not it had seats open. Even when requesting 'all' sections and/or the Open Entry format, the course schedule search won't display the courses! (*grmbl*)

I Emailed the Chair, What Now?

The CSC chair replies to all emails as soon as humanly possible, but life sometimes gets in the way. (S/He is human after all and has relatives who pass away, cats to scoop after, and a spouse to attend to...*smile*)

The chair's role in the Open Entry process is to distribute the emails from prospective students to the instructor scheduled for the course. This process recently became more complicated when it was discovered that the Adjunct Faculty Contract does not allow for them to teach an Open Entry format course! There are only two full time faculty members in CSC at present and their time is rather at a premium. We are looking into alternative means of payment/instruction to increase our instructor pool, but do not yet have any viable options.

If there is a delay in receiving a reply (even a week or more), don't fret! Come by to the chair's office or call. The current chairperson is Jason James, D221, 847/925-6697. Please note that faculty are not typically on campus when classes are not in session! Don't try to just 'come by' between semesters and expect the chair to be there. The email listed in the schedule is the best bet for those times. Office contact would be your line of attack once the semester has begun. ...and that's fine since Open Entry courses can begin any time at least up until midterm. *smile*

When Does the Class Meet?

Once you get in contact with your instructor (via the chair), you and s/he will work out the details of what you'd like to focus on and what times during the week work best for both of you. Some instructors may wish to get a small group of students together (if they have several enroll in the same section early, for instance), but this can prove difficult as you then have more individual schedules to piece together.

What Will the Class Cover?

One of the nice things about running a course on a more one-to-one basis with a student is the ability to tailor the content to meet their specific needs/desires. There are always guidelines and requirements which must be met! But, with an individual or even smaller group of students, the instructor can [de]emphasize certain topics to allow more depth or breadth of coverage to reflect the student's current needs/understanding.

When Will the Class End?

You are allowed a full semester's worth of weeks from the time your instructor allowed you to sign up. For Fall or Winter semesters, this would be 16 weeks. For Summer, it would [technically] be 8 weeks. Typically, you'll be allowed until the midterm of the [immediately] following semester to finish.

If your work spans the end of the current semester, you'll be assigned an initial grade of 'Incomplete' (or 'X'). This is standard procedure as the registrar needs something to put on file. When you finish your work, a 'Grade Change' form will be filed to adjust this to your earned grade. *smile* Never fear!