Seven-Week Terms Begin at OCtech This Fall

Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College is changing the way its instructors teach and students learn with seven-week terms starting this fall.

The new academic schedule is designed to improve student success while helping students move more quickly from college to career.

Instead of taking four or five classes at one time in a standard 15-week semester, full-time students will complete two or three classes each seven-week term. Part-time students will only need to complete one or two classes each term. A week off between terms breaks up the semester.

Financial aid will continue to be awarded based on the number of hours a student takes per semester.

President Dr. Walt Tobin said the shorter terms are in response to the evolving needs of OCtech students.

“We’ve learned that by reducing the number of courses students take at a given time, reducing the time spent completing those courses and creating sections between traditional terms, students tend to be more successful and have the opportunity to progress through their program faster,” he said. “Research has been clear about the benefits, and our faculty who have adopted courses in this format in previous semesters have experienced greater student satisfaction and success. I believe we’ll have data that aligns with that of colleges across the country using seven-week terms.”

Billy Ethridge, dean of Business, Computer Technology, Education and Public Service, said most programs in his division piloted seven-week classes this spring, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“We’ve had fewer students at the end of the term asking to make up work because they’re taking fewer classes at once,” he said. “Students have a bit more work to complete on their own, but they’re able to retain the information and perform better on tests because their attention isn’t divided between as many subjects.”

Stephanie Philips, dean of Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing Technology, said what stood out most to her about seven-week terms was student retention.

“I started with 15 students in one of my seven-week classes and ended the term with 15 students,” she said. “Typically, I have a few students who drop the course each semester. Exam grades were also about 10 percent higher on average than in previous semesters.”

Some classes in select degree and diploma programs will continue to be offered in the traditional 15-week format. Apprenticeships and other work-based learning programs will also continue to run in the semester model.

“With seven-week classes, I was able to focus more because I had to do my work right then and there. It helped me stay on track,” said Shameeka Barnes, an Early Care and Education student and working mother who piloted a seven-week course on exceptional children this spring.

“I went to campus one day a week, and I had the rest of the week to finish up the work I had to do for the class,” she said. “Seven-week classes are better for me because I have more time to spend with my kids, getting them set with their homework and activities.”

OCtech offers a number of certificates and diplomas that provide short-term career training with options to continue working toward a degree, and scholarships and grants are available that help students attend at little or no cost. Summer and fall registration is open. To get started, apply online at or call 803.535.1234.