If I had a quarter for every time

Switching from quarters to semesters will create, not alleviate, problems


Annalisa Baranowski | The DePaulia

Only about 14.7 percent of colleges in the United States currently use the quarter system for their academic calendar. DePaul University is one of those few that can say it uses the better of the systems. Semesters give students long and grueling classes that can last up to fifteen weeks. However, the quarter system has many different benefits that allow DePaul students to have a unique college experience.

DePaul isn’t the only school in Chicago to use the quarter system. In fact, outside of the West Coast states, Illinois has the most colleges that use the quarter system. These include Northwestern University, Rush University and The University of Chicago. So DePaul isn’t rare in the area; nevertheless, it can still be noticeable for students who have friends who go to other schools on the semester system. This is the major argument against quarter systems. Talking to DePaul students, I heard a lot of people bring up the fact that we get out later than other schools. Students see friends already enjoying their summer break while we are hunkered down in the library preparing for finals.

However, the downsides of the quarter system don’t match the upside that it brings to so many students at DePaul. If we can think back to just a few weeks ago, we were all enjoying our seven-week break. Schools on the seminar system don’t get this luxury. Senior Grace Carmona explained, “the December break let me go back home and find a job. My other friends who came back later didn’t want to find a job for their three-week break. Who would want a job for that short period of time.” When DePaul students go home for Thanksgiving they don’t need to be bothered by the idea that finals are a few weeks away. In its place, students use the time to find a job or internship that will help for life after DePaul.

Jobs aren’t the only thing that students can take advantage of during the long winter break. December intersession classes can get students back on track to graduate on time. There are study abroad trips that use the time for students to get the chance to experience new cultures around the world. Furthermore, the long break just gives DePaul students that breath of fresh air before starting a new quarter.

The long winter break is a great feature of the quarter system, but the benefits don’t stop there. The 10-week quarters gives students the flexibility to do more in their time at DePaul. Sally Baker, the associate director of undergraduate admission explained, “when our tour guides come out, we like to make a point of how many of them have double majors and minors. The flexibility of having more classes is one of the things that makes it possible for so many students.” Students take around 12 classes a year. With so many classes, the opportunity is there for students to pursue an interest in topics that have no connection to their major.

The long winter break and the class opportunity, both are great features that stem from the quarter system. However, there is another huge component of the quarter system that all students can be thankful for. The 10-week quarters allow for quick classes. All students have had classes that they weren’t particularly fond of. Classes where they dread going in each and every week. Thankfully, the quarter system allows these classes to move by fast. As soon as you start dreading the class, it’s already over. Lots of students told me that this was one of the reasons they liked the quarter system. You can get through those dull classes and move on to classes that really matter to you.

The 10-week quarters don’t just get there value for the fact that they go quick. There are many more benefits that come from this system. Baker stated, “In ten weeks, students will really engage in the materials in a different way. They will also tap into their professors in a different way because there is a shorter amount of time to do that deep dive.” Students need to connect with their professor early on so that they don’t fall behind. When the students connect with their professor, they can build that relationship to help in the future.

All of the benefits of the quarter system add up to a far better system than the seminar system. From what I heard from students, they enjoy the quarter system because of these benefits. However, DePaul could be among the growing wave of schools that switch over to semesters. Let’s hope DePaul listens to its students and keep the calendar the way it is.