The Triangle - The Independent Student Newspaper at Drexel University

Potential switch to semesters raises questions

Facebook, Twitter  and Reddit were swamped with updates and complaints Jan. 31 as students read through an email from Provost Mark Greenberg stating that he and his team are considering changing the Drexel academic calendar to a semester system.

After decades of the quarter system, students seem to be resistant to the idea of adopting the typical semester schedule. Especially with co-ops, it’s hard to see why the administration would consider rearranging the entire academic calendar. It’s also hard to predict how this would interfere with predetermined plans of study. Does this mean that professors would have to rework curricula to fit a 15-week term? Would this change the number of years that students study here before graduating or the number of courses required for each degree? How about the effects on tuition?

In his email, Greenberg acknowledged that many at Drexel love the quarter system and are accustomed to the fast pace and quick turnover of classes, but he also addressed the advantages that would come with a switch to a semester schedule. After the initial inevitable confusion and anger, Drexel students would be able to have five more weeks to learn and retain course material. Additionally, he explained that it could “promote better scheduling of activities involving other universities and colleges, including study abroad, research, athletic events and conferences.”

There are a few other schools that balance a co-op program with the semester schedule. The University of Cincinnati has the option to do three-month co-ops during either fall, spring or summer semesters. One thing that we love about Drexel is that our six-month co-ops give us more opportunities to be integrated into the professional environment and become actively involved in the position. Employers have more time to get to know their co-ops, which theoretically opens more doors for full-time employment down the road.

We feel that the quarter system is one of Drexel’s most defining attributes. It takes a certain kind of student to enter into a fast-paced educational environment, and everyone knows from the start that shorter terms present their own challenges. Not everyone is equipped with the skills to keep up with a 10-week term, and that’s OK. It’s just another thing that sets Drexel apart. We talk about how innovative we are, so why would we start moving backward with our academic schedule?

If you have an opinion on the future of Drexel’s academic schedule, it’s important to make your voice heard. The Office of the Provost is looking for comments, which can be sent to Vice Provost Janet Fleetwood at janet.fleetwood@drexel.edu. Students can also look forward to focus groups on the subject.

Remember, this decision isn’t even close to being made yet. Don’t freak out.