The College Fair is Coming!

JUNIORS – Last week I wrote about the big college fair coming to San Diego next Tuesday. This is your reminder to register: https://www.nacacfairs.org/attend/national-college-fairs/san-diego/. Come prepared with a list of schools you want to find and reps you wish to speak to – and have worthwhile questions about these schools to ask those reps.

Now, another thing to consider as you research schools: semesters versus quarters. Believe it or not, the academic calendar can make a big difference in your college experience so give this some thought before you add schools to your list.

Here is some information, as well as some pros and cons of each:

  1. The semester system is the most common academic calendar. The school year is divided into two semesters – fall and spring, with a winter break in between. Colleges using the semester normally begin the fall semester in late August and dismiss the spring semester in mid-May.

  2. Colleges using the quarter system divide the school year into fall, winter and spring quarters with the fourth quarter, summer, offering an opportunity to take additional classes or possibly graduate early. If your college operates on quarters, your school year will begin in late September, and will conclude in mid-June.

  3. Each semester is 15 weeks long, and students should expect to take 4-5 classes each semester to remain a full-time student.

  4. Each college quarter is approximately 10 weeks long, and students usually take three classes per quarter.

  5. The pace of the two systems is very different but the same amount of information is covered in semester as the same quarter classes. The quarter system is quick. If you are a quick study, grasping concepts rapidly and reading at high volume with ease, quarters will be no problem for you. Mid-terms can often begin by the third week of class – and if you attend class twice per week that means you have possibly only attended four classes when you have your first mid-term exam.

  6. The pace of semesters is slower – you have more time between tests, papers or projects, but this can be a mixed blessing, as some students tend to procrastinate.

  7. Quarters offer students an opportunity to take a greater number of courses so you can explore interests more broadly; semesters may offer fewer class options, but some will argue that they offer more depth.

  8. Bottom line is to know yourself – your strengths and your study habits. Both systems have their merits and it is up to you to do the work, no matter which academic calendar your college offers.

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