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Semester switch prompts some to hurry toward graduation

Spring graduation numbers are expected to rise because of students wanting to avoid the switch from quarters to semesters.

Ohio State will switch to semesters starting Summer 2012, and the idea of the switch has caused many students to push for earlier graduation.

“It’s a concern because we want to make sure there’s enough classes for students to finish,” said John Wanzer, assistant provost in the Office of Undergraduate Education.

Students are attempting to bypass any changes made under the semester system.

“Because the whole system is switching, I just felt that something might not go right with the way my grades would transfer,” said Andrew Zuk, a third-year in theater. “I didn’t know for sure but just the thought of switching to semesters and whatnot just didn’t sit well with me, so I took the initiative of graduating early.”

Zuk has been taking 20 hours or more each quarter since his first year at OSU, when OSU announced it would be shifting from quarters to semesters in 2012.

Zuk said a few of his friends have classes that will not transfer to semester credits. He said he’s also heard some people are excited to start and end at the same time as most schools on a semester schedule.

Kara Lapso, a third-year in international studies, also decided to graduate a full year early.

“The more I got those emails from the graduation office saying you have to check with this office, the more I thought I just didn’t want to do it,” Lapso said. “They look so complicated and I don’t really want to be here for this.”

Lapso said she took 20 hours or more each quarter to stay on track. She said her major’s coursework allowed her to be able to take more hours than average.

This could potentially lead to an increase in the number of graduates this spring, said Brad Myers, the University registrar.

Myers said this is the expectation because of feedback from institutions who have made the transition. This includes universities like Toledo and Minnesota.

“(Universities who switched) saw this experience where there was a bump in the number of students coming in trying to graduate before the deadline,” Myers said.

Myers said a marginal increase in the number of credit hours per student was noted, comparing Winter Quarter 2012 to Winter Quarter 2011.

If a student was close to graduation requirements, they were encouraged to make a plan with their adviser, Myers said.

The numbers for spring graduation have been going up the past couple years because of better retention rates, Myers said.

Myers said the number of credit hours students took during Fall Quarter wasn’t statistically significant.

There hasn’t been an increase in numbers of hours students are taking but rather an increase in enrollment, Wanzer said.

“We have a fairly good idea of what’s going to be offered in the summer, and it’s really the students’ call on whether they decide to get out before semesters,” Wanzer said.

Other institutions have told representatives at OSU to expect a drop in enrollment because students might graduate early, and students might be wary of taking more courses under the quarter system, Wanzer said.

Wanzer said the switch should not delay students from graduating or cause extra periods of enrollment. He also said OSU might decide to accept more transfer students in the fall to try and level off the drop in enrollment if students decide to push to graduate before the switch.

Students under the quarter system typically take three five-hour classes. Under semesters students might take five three-hour classes. This varies by course.

“It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but nobody knows,” Wanzer said. “We’ve just been told what to expect. We know what the tendencies have been and we’re taking some actions to try to avoid it happening.”

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