Quarters to Semesters: We’re Still Not Okay With It

It just feels wrong. Thanksgiving is less than a week away. In the glory days (the era of the quarter system), Thanksgiving meant the beginning of winter break, and winter break meant six weeks of internships, job opportunities and relaxation. Now, Thanksgiving break has become a time to catch up on homework and begin studying for final exams. How did this happen?

According to Ohio University’s website, the quarter to semester (Q2S) transition began in March of 2008 with the creation of the University System of Ohio. The university acknowledged the fact that many students liked the quarter system. However, they wanted Ohio University to be on the same track as every other school in Ohio. This would allow for students to take online classes at other universities while still going to Ohio University, have time to take more in-depth classes, be more competitive for internships and jobs and transfer credits more easily.

The switch from quarters to semesters occurred in the fall of 2012. This means that current juniors were the last ones to experience the quarter system.

“I miss the warm weather for the fests and not being in classes for so long,” said junior Carly Matthews.

The quarter system had a fall, winter, spring and summer term. Each was 10 weeks long, in addition to a week of exams. Classes generally began in early September and ended in early June. There was a six-week winter break that began around Thanksgiving and ended in early January. This allowed students to miss the brutal heat of August but still benefit from nice weather in May.

Additionally, most classes were four credit hours. A full course load was sixteen hours, which meant students only needed to take four classes. Typically, these would either be for one hour four days a week (Monday-Thursday) or for two hours either Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday. Friday classes were usually non-existent unless you were in some type of science or math major.

While it may seem insane to change from such a system, “one benefit that I have noticed would be that my work load is more spread out. I’m not always busy doing homework,” said Matthews.

Semesters do give students the opportunity to focus on one area of study for a longer period of time.

Sophomore Greg Warman was not old enough to have experienced the quarter system.

“I like only having to schedule classes twice for the year. The only thing I’ve heard about quarters is that classes were faster paced and now some classes kind of drag on toward the end of the semester. I feel like some of my classes get a bit repetitive and boring,” he said.

Warman’s sentiments were shared by Jacob Nichols. Nichols began his studies at Ohio University in 2009.

“Quarters are better than semesters. Fifteen weeks seem to drag on. I feel like professors tend to waste time or just fill space, and classes frequently get let out early. Exams are more manageable under quarters, too. Cumulative exams on topics covered fifteen weeks ago tend to be more difficult. In general, I found it easier to mentally keep track of my classes during quarters,” Nichols said.

“I also liked being able to take two more classes a year (usually 12 under quarters and only 10 under semesters). I feel like it gave me more of an opportunity to take electives that interested me.”

It’s obvious that Bobcats still aren’t over the dramatic change from quarters to semesters. However, there is nothing we can do about it, unless the entire state decides to switch to the quarter system… and that doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

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Here are some opinions on the matter. What do you think about the quarter to semester switch?

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