Semester information dispersed to U

Jeremy Taff

Whether it was for the free soda and buttered popcorn or the semester transition buttons and catalogs, students flocked Wednesday to the white tents at several locations across campus.
The massive distribution of the 360-page course catalog and a 40-page information handbook symbolizes the ever-nearing switch to the semester system. The conversion will take place in fall 1999.
The catalog contains listings for newly figured courses that will be offered over the 15-week semesters. The handbook offers tips and answers to commonly asked questions related to the switch.
Some students gathered outside Williamson Hall seemed to be taking the approaching conversion in stride.
“I’ll have to make sure that I’m not in the middle of any classes,” said Chris Larson, who is working on his master’s at the Carlson School of Management. “But as long as I plan ahead, I’m sure everything will go fine.”
Yet some students said things are better left unchanged.
“I think quarters are better than semesters,” said Mai Nguyen, a pre-medical technology student. “With semesters there are more classes which means I’ll have that much more to study.”
That debate has raged since plans to convert were first announced and approved by the Board of Regents in 1995. The Minnesota Legislature mandated that the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities follow suit to keep everyone on a similar calendar.
Peter Zetterberg, director of the semester conversion project, said a student who usually takes four 4-credit courses in the quarter system will have to take five 3-credit courses in the semester system.
This will keep a student on pace to graduate in four years, he said.
Zetterberg, who is also director of the Office of Planning and Analysis, added that under semesters the courses are for fewer credits and meet fewer times per week.
About 80 percent of colleges in the United States are on the semester system including eight schools in the Big Ten. Only Ohio State University and Northwestern University will still be on quarters after the University switches.
“For most institutions, it’s the best calendar to be on,” Zetterberg said. “You only have to go through the whole process of registering, buying books and so on two times per year.”
Zetterberg said students should make sure to keep up with the change and meet with their advisors to plan their schedules.
Students still attending the University in fall 1999 will have the choice of completing their quarter-based requirements using semester courses or with the new semester based degree requirements.
“I’m not too worried,” Larson said. “I’ll be close to finished.”