By Rodrique Ngowi, Associated Press Writer
BOSTON (AP) — Community college professor Kathleen O'Neill was setting the ground rules for her psychology students when she came to an issue she didn't normally have to address.
"What do we do if you fall asleep?" she asked. "What's a nice way to gently wake you up? Tap you on the head? Would you want your neighbor to just nudge you?"
Fair question, considering O'Neill's class begins just before midnight and runs until 2:30 a.m.
This semester, Bunker Hill Community College is offering two classes on the graveyard shift in a move to accommodate an unprecedented boost in enrollment attributed to the struggling economy as people look to augment their job skills without having to pay the tuition costs of more expensive schools.
O'Neill petitioned the college, which charges in-state tuition of $378 per course, to stay open long after most people go to bed after seeing growing demand from parents who must be with their children during the day and workers who wanted to be available to pick up any job shifts. While a handful of other schools have offered late-night classes, the American Association of Community Colleges says Bunker Hill is the only school in the nation offering overnight classes.
Student Omar Cuascut, a 27-year-old father of three young children, says he signed up for an overnight class after losing his job as a morning supervisor of the cleaning department at Harvard University and following his wife's advice to go back to school. He says he takes care of his youngest son during the day while his wife works.
"So this class works for me," Cuascut, of the Chelsea neighborhood, said during a coffee break shortly before 2 a.m.
The school, which was featured in the movie "Good Will Hunting" as the location where Robin Williams' character is an instructor, offered free coffee, tea and chocolate chip cookies this week during the first graveyard shift class. But none of the 19 students in O'Neill's class had trouble staying awake.