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Wednesday, November 9,2011

OU’s switch to semesters finally about to happen

By Jenna Blakely

Next fall, the familiar academic calendar of Ohio University will change from its long-used quarter system to a semester system to comply with the University System of Ohio's Strategic Plan for Higher Education. This year's winter intercession will be the last time in the foreseeable future that OU students will enjoy the lengthy six-week winter break.

Any current student who won't graduate by fall 2012 will be considered a "transition student." The Quarters to Semesters Transition staff (Q2S) has been working to ensure that the transition goes smoothly.

Despite all the efforts to make the transition work seamlessly, OU junior Frank Star said the change feels rushed. He said he has been aware of the transition since his freshman year, but wasn't offered clear guidance until this quarter. "I feel like they could have guided us in the right direction by telling us what classes to take early on, as soon as they decided they were switching," he said.

Many OU students have to make sure they finish course sequences before the switch takes place, or else wait for the semester equivalent of needed courses. The Q2S website explained that current courses either will be directly replaced by a semester equivalent, combined, or replaced by entirely new courses. The semester system will allow extra time for professors to go more in-depth into topics, and "nearly 8,000 courses have been submitted for approval in semesters, so there will be plenty from which to choose," according to OU's Q2S site.

The Transition Degree Completion Plan (TDCP) is designed to help transition students graduate on time. TDCP's will be planned with students' regular advisers or designated "transition advisers," and transition advising will take place throughout the year. Many departments may not begin transition advising until winter or even spring quarter, but students can ask their regular advisers questions about the switch. Each student's TDCP will be accessible on his or her online Student Center.

OU's semester calendar will consist of fall and spring semesters with the option for students to take summer courses. However, the new calendar will eliminate the six-week winter inter-session that some students previously used to work, complete internships or take more classes.

Star said he will miss the winter inter-session. "I looked forward to it every year because it gave me the opportunity to spend the holidays with my family without worrying about homework," he said. "Plus, I could get a job easily because it's during the holiday season, when companies need help."

Each semester will last 15 weeks, including one week of finals, with an average course load of five classes and 15 credits per semester. The Q2S website explained that quarter credits will not be lost in the switch to semesters, but rather they will be converted using the "quarters-to-semesters calculator." The site states, "Although the equivalent semester hours you've earned is a lower number than your quarter hours, the requirement hours are lower as well." The semester system requires 120 credit hours for a bachelor's degree, rather than 192 credit hours on the quarter system.

Spring quarter this school year ends in June as usual, but students will return to classes Aug. 27, 2012, as opposed to right after Labor Day in September. Students will have a Thanksgiving break for three days (plus the weekend), but fall semester classes will extend to Dec. 15. Spring semester is Jan. 14 to May 4, with one week off in March for spring break.

Students can visit the Allen Student Help Center in Baker Center for further guidance.


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