It’s been more than a year since quarters gave up the ghost, but the pain of losing quarters still keeps me up at night.
This is a eulogy for the Ohio University quarter system.
I loved quarters. We were only in class for 10 weeks, not counting exams. For me, 10 weeks seemed like the perfect amount of time to digest the material of a class without getting burned out.
Quarters offered more variety by allowing students to take more classes. Having three quarters in a year rather than two semesters allowed students to experiment more with what classes they took. There was no pressure to choose a major right away because students had time to dabble in different colleges. Study abroad was better under quarters because students could leave for 10 weeks for another country without feeling like they had to miss half of the year.
The six-week winter break was nice, but I think students have gotten used to a more common break calendar. Going home around Thanksgiving and not coming back until January was a pure delight. Sadly, OU students have now lost their monopoly on UPS driver helper jobs and possibly the opportunity to take on a class or internship over the winter.
One thing I will not miss is the dreaded “Bobcat time,” the assumption that every class, meeting or event started 10 minutes after the hour. On quarters, you always knew when your class was going to start, but on semesters, classes are generally every 55 minutes on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays, and every 90 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. How that makes sense is anyone’s guess.
If OU had a choice, quarters would probably still be alive. I understand that semesters make it easier to transfer credits between universities, but from an educational perspective, having universities with different calendar systems accommodates students with different learning styles. I personally prefer shorter, concentrated classes, but others may prefer to have the material spread out over a longer term.
The transition could have gone smoother. While a giant inflatable Rufus ensured that everyone knew quarters-to-semesters was happening, it was never entirely clear what that meant for students and faculty alike.
A year and a half in, it seems like most transition students are graduating without many problems. Semesters are fine and all, but I would not say it has improved the quality of students’ education. Rather, semesters are just the same car with a new coat of paint.
Now the only remnants of the quarter system are found in the summer where the semester is divided into shorter terms, but even that may be on its way out in favor of one long semester term. Maybe this will be a positive change, but one thing is for sure: once this new trimesters system is ushered in it will be as if quarters were never even here.
Don’t get me wrong; I am not calling for us to revive quarters. The die has been cast, and it would be a whole new headache to transition back. Still, I will always remember our time together fondly.
Rest in peace quarters. You will be missed.
Matt Farmer is a senior studying education and political science and a columnist for The Post. Do you prefer quarters or semesters? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.