In the first post in this 7-part series regarding phony time estimates, I said we are getting faked out by false promises when we are told by anybody–individuals, governments, bosses, companies, sales people, repairmen–anybody–how long it will take to do anything.
We believe them (so we contribute to the foolishness) because we value our time. We want to believe them! We want to be able to plan the day because our time is precious!
One of the reasons we choose one service or product over others is because we think the providers will be accurate about the time estimation for whatever they say they will do.
Usually they are wrong and we pay the price.
THE EVIL “ETA” SYSTEM
Today, I start to dismantle the “Evil ETA System,” (Estimated Time of Arrival) to show you how and why it works and why we get fooled so often.
My main example is college class times. I could use the other examples in my first post in this series, (medical appointments, home appliance repair visits, etc) but they don’t begin to match the scope and range of the fraudulence perpetrated by college and university calendars.
By using an example with many flaws you’ll be able to relate it to less complex but still odious examples from your own life. There’s a level and magnitude of boondoggle here that is unmatched by those other examples.
Yeah, fine, you say, but you’re not in college so it doesn’t apply to you
It doesn’t matter. This is an EXAMPLE, an illustrative case, of how times are screwed up. If you were in college, or had children there, you just have to remember how it was. If you were never in college–use your imagination! You’ll see how it works here and in your own life.
The details will be different but the essence is the same. The “Evil ETA System” remains the same and it will apply to your life, your business, your time.
Most businesses, governments and other organizations misrepresent the time they say it will take them to provide their product or service.
Remember that passport application that are supposed to take two weeks? Right.
Or the service person who said he’d be sure to be at your house to fix the dryer at 9 a.m.? Unhuh.
CASE IN POINT:
COLLEGE CALENDAR ESTIMATES OF INSTRUCTION TIME PROVIDED.
THE CLAIM: Most college calendars operating on the semester system, indicate that a three-hour class/week subject gets 45 hours of class instruction over fifteen weeks.
While many colleges PRETEND that this is true, it is a LIE.
Many first year programs in colleges using the semester system do offer 15 weeks of instruction per term, over three terms, fall, winter and summer. Many more have reduced that to 14 weeks (so that they can have 14 weeks each for the fall, winter, and summer semesters).
It looks good and it makes the semesters even; IT HELPS THE ADMINISTRATORS but it cuts out a week of class for the students.
THE PITCH (PROMISE)–not always stated explicitly, but implied:
“Come to our college. Classes are 3 hours a week for 15 weeks so you get 45 hours of classroom instruction /subject/semester.”
That’s the implicit promise to you, the education consumer (in this case) either the student, or, more likely, the parents! (Who’s paying for this anyway!)
(The quarter system is even worse because they operate with 2 or 3 fewer weeks!)
THE DELIVERY (ON THE PROMISE?) NOT EVEN CLOSE! NOT HALF OF THAT 45 HOURS!
The following is a deconstruction of the myth of class time in colleges in North America. If you are not in school this exercise is still valid as it also stands as a break-down of whatever time your organization says it takes to do such and such a thing/job/task.
They are wrong. My findings are accurate.
This breakdown will work for school or your own job.
FIRST: Background to the Myth
In North American colleges and universities, instructional time is customarily divided into either 3 semesters or four quarters. These have traditionally been broken down, in the case of semesters, to between 14 and 16 weeks, and in the case of quarters, to 12 weeks.
We are going to take a college’s system of 14 weeks as our example.
- You can already see that there is a 2-3 week difference between the average semester system of 14-15 weeks, and the quarter system of 12 weeks.
- Students in the quarter system can get 3 weeks less instruction than students in the semester system and both groups are supposedly studying similar curricula.
- (If they are not studying roughly the same curriculum, that points to a huge disparity, does it not? How can you compare what they offer in order to choose the colleges that give you the most education for your money?
There is no way to cover the same amount of in-class material in 12 weeks that you can handle in 14 or 15 weeks.
That big time difference makes it difficult for colleges to grant equal status to courses from sister colleges. The disparity is so great, it’s also hard for everyone to judge the quality of education when students transfer from one institution to another. (But that’s a whole different issue!)
I am going to dissect this point by point. No one has done this before. Believe me, I checked.
It starts in the next post in this 7-part series.
COMING NEXT: Time Loss, Part 3: 8 ways colleges lie about instructional time.
Part Three of an analysis of bad time-line estimates that falsify the amount of time people tell us it will take to do anything! And we trust the soandso’s!