There is no magic switch for semester conversion
Published: Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Updated: Friday, June 15, 2012 22:06
There has been some confusion about why it takes so long to convert to semesters. By now, people should realize that there are several considerations which take extensive planning. Some wizard does not just throw a switch and, voila, semesters are here. There is no Office Depot "easy button."
The first issue comes in setting the actual dates for when everything happens. Word on the street is 2012, though I am sure Dr. Gee would have loved to have seen OSU in semesters as soon as he returned. 2012 seems pretty reasonable.
Dates are challenging. Not only does the academic calendar need to be established, but other date-related issues also need to be resolved. Semesters no doubt would bring an early September or even late August start date for classes. That would mean the leases for the off-campus areas would need to reworked with the landlords. Other businesses associated with move in, like rental trucks, storage and even the utility companies would also need to be notified so they can adjust their inventory and staffing accordingly. It would be nothing short of chaos if those factors did not change. Moving in, getting settled and beginning classes would become a disaster movie, aptly titled "There Will Be Blood on Chittenden."
Semesters could benefit OSU football, as the two home games prior to fall quarter now would become part of the season ticket package. Adding two more home games to the season ticket price may be cost-prohibitive to some, but by 2012 the economy (in theory) should be booming again!
Technology is wonderful, but changing it can be a hassle, not to mention costly. All the conversion involved in changing over records, databases, forms, policies and procedures reflective of the semesters does not happen for free. The IT staff will certainly earn their keep preparing for the switch.
Faculty also need time to redesign their courses to fit the semester system; this takes significant planning, not to mention time. I know as a grad student there are times classes have felt rushed, and the semester system is more conducive to in-depth study. Of course, the downside is that if you are in a class you dislike, you are stuck in there for a longer length of time.
Despite these challenges, the conversion puts OSU in alignment with Gov. Strickland and Chancellor Eric Fingerhut's goal of easier transfer opportunities. Ohio students who may have gone to a private college, community college or a public university outside Ohio will find returning to OSU easier. The "how many quarter hours does three semester hours equal" mystery will be solved and the dates will be similar to other universities and colleges. I would also rather be done in early May rather than June; I doubt many of us currently like being the last ones finished.
So yes, semesters will be a great addition to our curriculum in the future, but it takes time, money and significant labor, much of which occurs behind the scenes. After all this, though, I doubt I will miss explaining what a quarter is to non-OSU students.
Seth Fishman is a graduate student in higher education. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.