2012-13 students will study for two semesters
Written by Kurt Moore, published by The Marion Star, Tues., Jan. 31, 2012
MARION - The Marion Campus is recognizing both benefits and challenges as it works toward converting from quarters to semesters this summer.
Twenty colleges and universities including The Ohio State University and Marion Technical College will switch from quarters to semesters. All of Ohio's public universities will be on semesters as part of the University System of Ohio mandated by the Ohio Board of Regents.
The change is to ease the transfer of students within colleges and universities and allow for more in-depth teaching.
College officials expect it will take some adjustment.
What the change will mean is students have two semesters instead of three quarters each academic year, not including summer sessions. Students will start the school year in August and end in May, about a month earlier than the current academic calendar.
Chris Trapp, assistant director of academic services at The Ohio State University at Marion, said advisers have stepped up their efforts to work with students.
"The university has pledged no harm to students," she said.
That means students will get about the same amount of instruction and full-time tuition will not cost more under semesters than it would have cost under quarters.
There are also to be no adverse effects to financial aid.
Mike Stuckey, director of the MTC student resource center, said there will be some adjustments in curriculum.
He has launched the My Advising Plan for Semesters online program to help students make sure they get the credits they need to finish their degrees. It has been successful enough that the college will continue using it after the conversion.
Other adjustments will likely include course load, Trapp said. Students now taking three five-credit full-time courses a quarter may be taking five three-credit courses on a semester. Some students may drop below what's considered the full-time equivalent "until they get into the groove."
It also will affect faculty who may be teaching three classes a semester instead of two a quarter. Trapp said that's more preparation required by faculty who will also have to adjust their curriculum to spread it out over 14 weeks instead of 10 weeks.
"There are a few unknowns to this," Stuckey said. "It really changes the style of teaching that will take place."
Trapp expects the biggest benefit will be easing the transfer of credits between institutions, another big push of the Ohio Board of Regents.
Calendars will also be more closely aligned, which she said will help graduates get jobs that otherwise "were already snapped up" by the time they graduated.
Other universities making the change are actively explaining why to students and the public.
The University of Cincinnati stated on its website that it had changed from quarters to semesters in 1892, but changed back in the early 1960s because of how much the college-age population increased. It helped accommodate a greater number of students.
The university stated the main academic advantage to semesters is that "it provides greater opportunities for collaborative research and for in-depth teaching and classroom projects."
It also may help students have more time to "adjust to the rigors of university academic life."
Reporter Kurt Moore: 740-375-5151 or firstname.lastname@example.org