Since the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, students and, more importantly, various CSU presidents have been plagued with the idea of semesters vs. quarters. For those unfamiliar with the difference between the two, below is a breakdown of the two.
- The school year is split into two blocks and each will generally be about 15 weeks long. With that there are two finals weeks coming to a grand total of 32 weeks for the entire school year.
- Each semester students take somewhere around five classes, with the possibility of more if the classes are 1-2 units.
- The school year is from mid- to late-August, ending around May with a large winter break from December to sometime in January.
- The school year is split into four blocks (summer being one of them) and are about 10 weeks each. Because summer is one of the "quarters" the school year is set up more like trimesters as many students do not stay for summer. With that there are three finals weeks for a grand total of 33 weeks.
- Each quarter students take about four classes, again with the possibility of more if the classes are 1-2 units.
- The school year is from early- to mid-September, ending around late-May to early-June with a winter break taking up most of December and a small bit of January.
With this information, what the main issue has been among students and administrators alike is whether or not Cal Poly--along with other CSUs--will switch from the quarter system they're on now to semesters, or if they will continue on with the quarter system. A unity throughout the CSUs has been a long standing idea, but has not been acted upon until now.
Cal Poly president Jeff Armstrong sent out a letter to all Cal Poly students yesterday via email with the following announcement:
The presidents expressed a wide range of views about the positives and negatives of both quarters and semesters, with all of us recognizing that it has been the CSU’s strong desire for several years to have the entire system on a common calendar. Following discussion, there was a clear understanding by Chancellor White and all presidents that the benefits of a common calendar outweigh individual campus preferences.
Although many students in favor of the quarter system were upset about the decision, it has also been made clear that the switch will not be completed any time soon.
The Chancellor is finishing his consultations with the various campuses, as well as with the statewide Academic Senate, and is moving toward a decision that the quarter-based campuses should convert to semesters in phases.
Cal Poly would not convert to semesters until the other campuses have gone forward. If all goes as expected, Cal Poly would begin the process of converting to semesters by the end of the decade.
Because of this lengthy process, Cal Poly can expect to be on the quarter system for a least a few more years, allowing for the current students, as well as Fall 2013 incoming students to remain on the system that Cal Poly is known for.
With the change, many are concerned about what it will mean for Cal Poly's name, however, many agree that even with the conversion Cal Poly will remain a top-notch university simply with less credits per block during the school year.
This gradual phasing in will give Cal Poly plenty of lead time to identify and capture what is best about quarters and retain those elements in the new calendar.
For more information on how previous news regarding this drastic change, visit Cal Poly's Semester Task Force page.