Education: The Advantage of the Quarter System

While most college students were finishing finals last May, a frantic minority were still battling its way through midterms. These are students on a quarter system, where school lets out mid-June and the school year is split into three quarters, instead of two semesters. The question of semesters v. quarters isn’t one high school students often consider, but it shapes the fundamentals of their college experiences. The quarter system consists of 3-4 classes that you take for 10 weeks. It’s certainly a sprint, with midterms often starting two weeks after the beginning of classes, but it also means students get tested on material they learned very recently. Since a quarter lasts 2.5 months, you get a new set of classmates and professors three times a year. It becomes a constant opportunity to make new connections and experience a wider variety of teaching styles. Dartmouth, Northwestern, Stanford, and nearly all the Universities of California use the quarter system. And yes, it’s discouraging when countless Facebook friends are already enjoying their summer, but it’s also comforting to know they’ll go back to school in August, whereas most classes on the quarter system don’t resume until September/October.

Contributor: Celeste Montaño

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