The Quarter System Quarrel

Kimberly Wilson, Opinion Editor

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The semester calendar, which splits a school year into two to three 15-week terms, is the system most Americans are familiar with. At 71.2 percent according to the National Association of College Stores, the majority of colleges in America, including College of DuPage, use this system. Just because most schools use this system doesn’t mean it’s the best.  

The lesser-known quarter system divides a school year into three 10-week terms. Many argue the main reason for its minimal use by schools is because students have less time to absorb information, but there are benefits.

The quarter system lets students take more classes per school year. This gives students the opportunity to experiment with different classes they may not have had the chance to take in a semester system. This could be especially helpful to students who are undecided on a major (like many COD students) as they’ll be able to explore a wider variety of subjects.

The quarter system can also help students to stay focused throughout the term. Less time to get school work done will mean less time to procrastinate. A shorter term forces students to do their work on time unless they are fine with failing.  

Students will also have more chances to raise their grade point averages because of the greater number of classes they’ll be able to take. Double majoring and adding a minor can also be more easily achieved when taking more classes during the school year.

Of course, the semester system is not without its advantages. The extra weeks in a semester gives students breathing room. Students under the semester system don’t feel as much pressure because there is more time to take in information and complete assignments. Students attending schools with semester systems also graduate earlier, giving them a head start in the job market.

Both systems can have advantages and disadvantages, but depending on what you want out of college, attending a school with a quarter system might just pay dividends. If you are student who wants a comprehensive learning experience, could use an extra incentive to not procrastinate and/or works well under pressure, a quarter system could very well make your time in college much more enriching. With top Illinois schools like Northwestern University and the University of Chicago utilizing this system, there just might be a method to the madness after all.


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