With the semester switch right around the corner, everyone on campus is anxiously waiting to see how it will pan out. I can’t imagine the amount of work and planning that has already gone into the process: revamping curriculum, modifying degree requirements, changing the online scheduling system, equipping guidance counselors, and creating a new logistical system for classroom utilization. These are all the technicalities that the university has been anticipating for the last few years now. But even with the thousands of brilliant minds working together here on our campus, I know students still have plenty of concerns and questions, many which will not be able to be addressed until the new semester system is under way.
As most universities are already under semesters, I do believe that there must be more benefit in using that system. Of course the students here are wary of change, but we must keep in mind that OSU is a great institution with our best interest in mind, and that ultimately this switch will pay off. However, change is never easy.
As a third year finance major (minoring in statistics) in the Fisher College of Business, moving into my final year under semesters does leave me a bit uneasy. I will say the university staff has done a great job of trying to prepare students ahead of time by requiring students to meet with counselors to prepare their TAP’s (Transitional Academic Plans). These are essentially a roadmap for a student’s remaining classes, and ensure the student will meet graduation requirements. I planned out my remaining classes with my counselor this past fall and the course transition was relatively seamless. However, like most college students, I have already changed my mind about course options and somewhat strayed away from the plan we laid out, leaving me somewhat anxious about what will happen come next year. I believe the main concern for most students in my position (juniors switching to semesters senior year) is that if there is any fluke in our scheduling we may have to graduate a semester late. This could potentially be quite costly (in regards to money AND time), and especially now that we would have to take another whole semester, not just, say, a “quarter-sized” class. A fluke could come in many forms: not having enough capacity in a necessary class, having necessary courses offered at conflicting times, or not having a prerequisite class offered in a semester we can work with. Even for students who have had their entire 4-year class schedule mapped out since the summer before freshman year, these types of problems could still be a concern since they are potentially out of our control.
Another semester transition difficulty that has been challenging to figure out is the degree audit function on Buckeye Link, which is not yet completely integrated with semesters. Consequently, it is now more difficult to track your coursework progress for your degree major and minor requirements. You must either do some serious puzzle work with the old quarter requirements and semester conversion charts (and trust your judgment), or set up an appointment with your counselor to discuss even minor course or scheduling concerns. With my experience at Fisher College of Business, setting up a timely counseling appointment is quite a challenge. My advisor has been great about getting back to my emails, but I’m sure many of the questions students have can’t simply be answered in an email, or are more along the lines of asking for advice where a conversation must be had.
Other than the simply logistical aspects of the conversion, I am left wondering how learning under semesters will differ from quarters. I have an inkling that either our professors, who are used to quarter curriculum, will hit us with a work load similar to what they have always been doing, or will make the work load much too light. As we are used to having 3-5 classes per quarter and will now be taking 5-8 classes per semester, if they try and give us the same amount of work, students will go crazy! This will be overload and could cause grades to fall. I somewhat hope they error on the side of caution, but then again we are still paying a large amount of money for this education and don’t want to get less than the knowledge we deserve. This aspect of the switch will undoubtedly take time to balance out, and I hope that those of us who are getting just one or two years of semesters don’t lose out on any deserved education (or get so overloaded that our GPA’s suffer!).
A final concern of mine, one that it is too late to remedy, is the fact that many students took classes under quarters that they will no longer need to graduate under semesters. Being a business student, I have classmates who raised the concern to OSU staff, wondering “Will we get our money back for the classes we didn’t need to take?” Unfortunately the school has no way of reimbursing us for these courses. Luckily I am a student who tries to savor all the knowledge I can gain here at OSU, so even though I didn’t need to take a second astronomy class, I try to be happy that I now know what a supernova is and how dark matter affects our universe.
I am hopeful that our wonderful president, Gordon Gee, and the many great minds working here at OSU will be able to quickly and efficiently smooth out the challenges that have arisen now that scheduling has begun and semesters are starting to run their course. With so many students, staff, and various majors and minors already in progress, I hope that most students can still end up getting the education and degree they desire and have worked hard for.
Semesters also have some great benefits that students need to start considering! With more time to learn material, we should be able to retain more of the knowledge we are receiving. We’ve gotten so used to it, but cramming a whole course into ten weeks is tough. I think about the AP classes I took in high school and how I had a whole 9 months to learn the material. I definitely remember a LOT more from those classes than I do most ten week GEC’s I’ve taken at OSU. We also will hopefully have more variety of courses offered each term. In my opinion, more opportunity is always better.
Finally, lets not forget the fact that it is now much more likely that we will have overlapping spring breaks with our friends at other schools!! I know my senior spring break plans involving my friends who go to school in Arizona and Colorado are already in the works.