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How to Survive A Quarter to Semester Conversion. Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, President SACS Commission on Colleges May 11, 2010. Definitions. Academic Term—the time when classes are held, i.e., fall, spring, summer Semester—an academic year with two terms of 15 weeks (30 weeks total) [81%]

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how to survive a quarter to semester conversion

How to Survive A Quarter to Semester Conversion

Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, President

SACS Commission on Colleges

May 11, 2010

  • Academic Term—the time when classes are held, i.e., fall, spring, summer
  • Semester—an academic year with two terms of 15 weeks (30 weeks total) [81%]
  • Quarter—an academic year with THREE 10 week terms (30 weeks total)
  • Trimester—an academic year with three 10-11 week terms (30-33 weeks)
  • Open Entry/Exit—most typical in on-line programs
key to successful transition
Key to Successful Transition
  • “…Working with faculty, students and staff to ensure an appropriate perspective and frame of reference as they undertake the change.”
          • Fred Gainous, Former Chancellor
          • Alabama System
why semesters
Why Semesters?
  • Most common practice in the world (Common Calendar)
semester systems






Hong Kong








United Kingdom (varies)

Semester Systems
why semesters6
Why Semesters?
  • Ensures same amount of academic credit for classes across institutions
credit values
Credit Values
  • Hours—3 quarter hrs = 2 semester hrs
  • Credits—quarter hours are usually 4 or 5 credits and semester hours are 3 credits
    • Full time student must take five courses per semester OR 3 or 4 courses per quarter
    • Students must take more classes to learn same amount of information under quarter systems
why semesters8
Why Semesters?
  • Facilitates Transfer Among Different Institutions Across the World
american association of collegiate registrars and admission officers
American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers
  • Transfer Credit Practices—is published to facilitate student mobility among institutions and to reduce the problems of students who attend more than one institution in the pursuit of an associate, baccalaureate or post-baccalaureate degree.
          • AACRAO Transfer Practices
why semesters10
Why Semesters?
  • Several Advantages
advantages of semesters
Advantages of Semesters
  • Overall
    • More time on task for students to absorb and comprehend material, complete papers and projects
    • Easier to transfer credits
    • Earlier graduation date puts students in the job market earlier
    • More time teaching than registering students
    • More flexibility in scheduling classes
    • Reduced costs of buying textbooks, printing class schedules, etc.
    • Opportunity to Revamp the Curriculum
advantages continued
Advantages Continued
  • Instructional
    • Scheduling (fewer courses needed)
    • Fewer Course sections needed
    • More classrooms available in the afternoon
    • Allows part-timers to enroll in more than one class per term
    • Student retention should increase
issues and policies to consider
Issues and Policies to Consider
  • Teaching Faculty
    • Load—Courses and hours to be taught (regular terms and overloads)
    • Consulting/Research Efforts
    • Office hours, Committee Meetings, etc.
    • Compensation (Fall & Spring vs Summer)
    • Vacations
    • MORALE
sample faculty load translation

50 days of class

+5 days of exams

+1 day pre-class

56 days/quarter

÷3 months/quarter

18 2/3 days/month

The Ohio State University


70 days of class

+5 days of exams

+1 reading day

76 days/semester

x2 semesters

152 days

+19 days May term

171 days

÷ 9 months

19 days/month

Sample Faculty Load Translation
sample faculty load
Sample Faculty Load
  • FL SP SU
  • Total Duty Days 175 54
  • Instructional Weeks 15 10 10
  • Exam Days 5 5 3
  • Total Days/Weeks 80/16 80/16 53
  • Registration Days 2 2 1
  • Prof. Devel. (state) 2 3
  • Prof. Devel. (local)  6 
        • Alabama College System
issues and policies continued
Issues and Policies Continued
  • Academic Calendar
    • Length of terms
    • Dates for Final Exams, Withdrawal, etc.
    • Graduation Dates
    • Admission and Registration Dates
    • Computation of Grade Point Averages
    • Revision of Number of hours in degree and certificate programs
issues and policies continued18
Issues and Policies Continued
  • Student Services
    • Advisors to meet with students to explain & reconfigure their academic program
    • Set positive tone with students to ease transition
    • Identification of a Coordinator to:
      • Handle Complaints
      • Make Decisions About Course Substitutions
    • Opportunity to Make Changes in Advising Process
    • How to Handle Repetition of Courses Taken Under Quarter System, “I” grades, Student Classifications, Conversion of GPA’s, etc.
    • Calculation of Honor Lists, Warning & Probationary Status, etc.
issues and policies continued19
Issues and Policies Continued
  • Student Concerns
    • No Loss of Credit
    • No Extended Time to Graduation
    • No Overall Increased Costs (up front costs may be more because of only paying twice a year rather than 3 times)
issues and policies continued20
Issues and Policies Continued
  • Fiscal
    • Ensure no net increases in tuition/fees
    • Plan for change in revenue the first year or two due to enrollment changes (+ or -)
    • Need for an Emergency Loan Fund or Tuition Payment Plan
    • Potential Changes in Payroll Dates
    • Changes in Tuition Rates & fees, Dates for payments, Refunds, Pell Grant Distributions, etc.
    • Potential Costs to implement Conversion
issues and policies continued21
Issues and Policies Continued
  • Information Services
    • Changes in software programs and databases
      • New Transcripts with Explanations of Changes
      • Conversion of GPA’s
      • New Bills
      • Change in Term for Financial Aid purposes
issues and policies continued22
Issues and Policies Continued
  • Potential New Processes/Practices
    • Information Packet for Students Explaining Conversion
    • Common Course Directory—standardized numbers, definitions, prefixes, and credit
    • Course Program Completion Form (Academic Audit)
    • New Procedures for Adding Courses
    • New Assessment Processes for Faculty, courses & programs, and process
contact information
Contact Information

SACS Commission on Colleges

Dr. Belle S. Wheelan, President