Quarter qualms, short classes, long year

Before drafting this article, I will be honest, I did not have an opinion on the quarter system. As a first-year student nearing the end of his first year, I had experienced the life of a quarter system student and survived, but I seemed to lack the pure hatred one had for it — so much in fact, she is transferring next year or the love that others shared. So, I stared at the assignment, not only wondering what my opinion would be on the Opinions section of the DePaulia, but also thought, what do I think of the quarter system?

When coming to DePaul University, I knew that I would be on the quarter system, but it did not honestly seem to faze me. A long winter break was the hook for me, I will not lie. It was not until I started my first week that I caught a glimpse of how hectic the process would be. I was thrown into the arena on day one. I wasn’t idle for long before I had another assignment due, another paper to write, another speech to perform.

My high school, like many others, ran on the semester system, so in the beginning of my fall quarter, I had to put myself out there and apply myself harder so I wouldn’t fall behind. In high school I felt like there was a point in the class where I would have a lull in work and it made me check out of the class. However, at DePaul I feel that I don’t get to check out, which allows me to work harder, and learn more.

 Of course, the quarter system does have its flaws. I know personally I feel as though I do not seem to connect with my classmates or professors until the end of the quarter. Whether that be a personal feeling or just a lack of time, I feel as though I am not able to come out of my shell as soon as the class starts, which inhibits me from connecting with the course. I am taking a course in PR and advertising before I choose to switch my major to see if I connected with the people in that program itself, but I haven’t been able to interact much with the people because the work is so fast paced and individualized. 

“I actually like the quarter system for the most part, especially since I like having the opportunity to meet new people,” freshman Claire Edwards said. “Especially as a film major, I feel like we have more classes that we’re able to be in for a smaller amount of time get to know people.”

What I found interesting about DePaul was the number of classes that you could take in such a brief time. I was able to explore what I wanted to do with my life, and this is one of the helping factors as to how I changed my own major. In a semester school, the average student will take four to six classes per semester, however, at DePaul, you typically take four classes per quarter.

 Not only that, but the quarter system does not allow many professors to go in-depth on the topics that they are teaching.

 “It forces us to make some tough choices about what is most relevant, most interesting, and the readings that most closely align with our learning goals,” sociology instructor Heather Easley said. “There’s only so much you can do in 10 weeks, so assigning an appropriate amount of reading and work in a 10-week quarter … I would definitely take more time to work on those presentation skills … but I don’t [because] it doesn’t make sense for the 10-week quarter.” 

While professors like Easley wish they were able to put more into their courses, students feel as though they are not able to fully digest the information they are handed.

“I feel like I don’t get in-depth on topics as much as I would like to,” sophomore graphic design major Claire Becker said.

Becker talked about the struggles she has faced when taking classes following the quarter system. 

“I have been in classes where I have taken interest in a topic, but then the class is over and I’m moving on before I can dig into it,” Becker said.

During the fall quarter when I was taking my Communication 101 class, I constantly wanted to learn more about a certain topic and had to set aside that urge to learn more about said topic or I would fall behind. I have, since then, been able to comfortably know when I can explore my own topics that I find interesting, but that learning curve is something many must figure out to successfully work with the quarter system.

The quarter system has its flaws, sure, but I feel as though the quarter system is a unique spin on the learning process, and while I can complain about it until I’m blue in the face, I feel like it is a system that keeps me moving, and as a freshman, I felt like I was able to hit the ground running this first year.