Semester system will require

Emily Dalnodar

Freshmen traditionally play the lost and confused students on campus. But they have company this year as even seniors try to navigate the new semester-based system.
The 130-year-old University goes through one of its most marked changes this fall as it switches to a semester calendar: two 15-week semesters instead of the usual three 10-week quarters.
University e-mail, newsletters and updates have advised students of the change since 1995, when the Board of Regents voted to convert. Hordes of students have already prepared by completing sequence and requirement courses and talking to an adviser. But some students still need to gear up for the change.
“If you haven’t seen your adviser about the semester transition, do it now,” warns Laurel Carroll, an administrative aide in the Office of Planning and Analysis.
Freshmen fall under the new semester requirements, and thus aren’t affected by the change: They start out fresh under semester-based requirements. But everyone who started under quarter-based requirements now falls under semester transition requirements.
The transitional requirements are created especially for students enrolled at the University during the change and affect the core curriculum classes — those required of each student to complete their degree.
The longer terms reduce the number of classes required of students. So now, for example, instead of needing three science classes for a liberal arts degree, a student needs only two: Both sets of requirements add up to a full year of science.
But students have less opportunity to register for those classes because they have only two terms in which to do so, instead of three.
“Students who don’t get into a required class in the fall don’t have winter and spring to try again. They only have spring,” Carroll said.
On the flip side, most semester-based core curriculum classes will offer larger seat capacities and more sections to accommodate students, Carroll said.
Still, college students have to plan very carefully, said Darren Walhof, a College of Liberal Arts curriculum coordinator. A class that doesn’t fulfill a requirement under the semester system will hurt students more than under the quarter system, he said.
“We advised students to finish as many requirements as possible before fall 1999 because it’s easier to get them done under the quarter system,” Carroll said. “Most students did that, but some still haven’t gotten around to it,” she said.
Those still needing to complete requirements should pick up their individualized Academic Progress Audit System report. This provides information about how semester courses can be used to complete quarter requirements. The reports are available at the Office of the Registrar or from each college’s advising office.
Besides the extra paperwork, returning students will notice a difference in their academic days. Compared to a quarter course load, semester course loads will seem larger. Three to four quarter courses constitutes a full-time schedule, whereas four to five semester courses comprise the norm.
Instead of crunching the day’s classes into a morning and afternoon schedule, students might need a whole day to fit all their classes on the plate.
“While you might be taking more courses at a time, in fact, the total number to take in one year — and to graduate — is fewer,” said Jean Cameron, a CLA student services assistant dean. “That’s what you have to keep thinking about during your longer day.”
The quarter system required 12 courses each year to maintain full-time schedule. Under the semester system a student needs only 10 classes.
“It’s going to feel different. It’s going to feel strange,” Cameron said. “You’re going to have to figure out how to pace yourself.”