Midnight classes cater to academic night owls

Picture this: a professor drones on and on in front of class while students sip caffeinated beverages and a select few steadily close their eyes and drift off to dreamland.

At first glance, any experienced college student would say it carries all the traits of the dreaded 8 a.m. class. And while that may be true, this scene has been popping up at a growing number of schools not in the morning hours, but at midnight.

Late-night classes are becoming an increasingly popular option at community colleges, which have seen a spike in enrollment over the past two years.

Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, Mass. was among the first to offer late-night classes, which the school started in fall 2009, according to Colleen Roach, executive director of communications and marketing.

“The idea really came out of the heads of the professors,” Roach said. “As early as the spring of ’09, they got together with each other and the school and suggested we start offering late-night courses.”

Like other schools, BHCC started offering the classes in an effort to better serve a growing number of students with different time schedules.

“We have a number of students who are also (late-night) shift-workers,” Roach said. “Making late-night courses available really helped them find a class that works with their schedule.”

Roach said BHCC also launched an aggressive marketing campaign to get the word out on their late-night courses, which garnered them coverage from the likes of CNN and Reuters.

BHCC currently offers five courses starting as early as midnight and ending as late as 3 a.m., with plans to increase the number to eight next semester, Roach said. Some of the subjects include: English, psychology, math and college writing.

The late-night classes also provide a second opportunity for students who had a desired class earlier in the day fill up before they could enroll in it, Roach said.

“We’ve had a great response from students,” Roach said. “With our enrollment skyrocketing and the diverse student body, the classes have been quite successful.”

While the call for late-night course offerings is gaining steam, Marquette has no immediate plans on adding such classes, according to Tim Olsen, communications manager.

But students at Marquette are certainly intrigued by the idea.

“I would probably prefer a late-night class over an 8 a.m., assuming I could still get the same amount of sleep,” said Tom Gessert, a junior in the College of Health Scienes.

Some say student schedules are already suited to late-night class.

“I think it would appeal to a lot of students,” said Pat Paulino, a junior in the College of Engineering. “There’s lots of kids who already stay up way past that, and late-night class might just be a cool experience.”

But to have a class, you need a professor.

“It’d be difficult to find a professor willing to teach from midnight into the early morning,” Gessert said. “The classes could become popular, but ultimately I think teachers would much rather have classes in the morning and afternoon.”