Nearly two years after switching from quarters to semesters, Ohio State’s administration is still ironing out kinks stemming from the transition of about 12,000 classes on a 10-week quarter system to 15-week semesters.
The fate of May Session — a four-week term offering students up to three free credit hours that was created as a result of the quarter-to-semester conversion — is still being decided for future years, as are the implementation of a fall break during Autumn Semester and the possibility of having two commencements instead of three, Executive Vice President and Provost Joseph Steinmetz said in an interview with BuckeyeTV, an affiliate of The Lantern.
As for the future of May Session, including its potential cost, Steinmetz said he asked the University Senate Fiscal committee to study the financial impact of offering free tuition to students during “Maymester” and hopes to learn its recommendation by the end of Spring Semester.
“My concerns are, is if this is costing the university to waive these three credit hours and it’s having a negative impact on our other semesters, I think we’re probably not getting to the point where we want to be with this,” Steinmetz said April 1. “So if that’s the case and that’s the recommendation to come, we would consider charging during May Session.”
Steinmetz said the amount of potential May Session fees would need to be worked out depending on the committee’s recommendation.
He was unavailable to comment on the status of the recommendation as of Tuesday evening.
Currently for May Session, students owe about $70 in student activity, student union and Central Ohio Transit Authority fees, though instructional and general fees are covered. The instructional fee is $1,146 and the general fee is $46.50 for a three credit hour class.
If Maymester did continue, Alexis Dreier, a second-year in biology, said she would like to see it remain partially free because of the limited course offerings and number of sections available for online classes during the four-week session.
“I’m on the wait list — I’m like 36th for this women and pop culture class,” Dreier said. “For the online classes, if you have that many people waiting, then just make another class that’s online. I don’t think it’s that difficult to open up another class.”
Kara Kelsh, a second-year in pharmacy, said she also signed up for an online Maymester class and she, too, was put on a wait list.
“Right now I’m trying to get into an online class and it’s only a 45-person limit, and on the wait list there’s already 45, so I feel like they should open it up to more people or have more sections,” Kelsh said.
Despite not knowing the future of May Session, Steinmetz said it’s looking like students might get a fall break during Fall Semester.
“(There was) a lot of complaint from students I think that the Fall Semester seems very long, so we’re looking at the prospects of introducing a fall break into that semester,” Steinmetz said. “And so there’s a group that has been engaged in the semester conversion process all along that’s looking at that issue.”
A fall break could mean Megan Scribner, a third-year in communication who is from Cleveland, could join her family in its annual apple-picking tradition instead of having to stay behind, she said.
“I would love a fall break, that would be awesome,” Scribner said. “My sister goes to Purdue and she had a fall break, so it really worked out for her to be able to go home and see our family. All of our family comes in in October and we go apple picking and her fall break helps them plan that, so a fall break would make it nice so I can go home, too, and be with my family for longer than a day.”
Steinmetz said he was hoping to know a recommendation about the implementation of a fall break by the end of Spring Semester 2014, but said any changes to the academic calendar most likely couldn’t be made for more than a year.
“If (the recommendation) comes now, it probably couldn’t be implemented until the calendar year of 2015 at the earliest because these calendars are set up a few years in advance,” Steinmetz said.
Steinmetz said he would be in support of a few extra days off.
“I actually favor one, I could use the break,” he said.
Brad Myers, the university registrar, said during Fall Semester, OSU had already approved the first five years of the academic calendar through Fall Semester 2015 when the university decided to switch to semesters.
Myers said creating the academic calendar involves balancing many interests, including considering the number of instructional days each semester and allowing enough time at the end of the semester for Autumn Commencement to run smoothly.
The size of Autumn Commencement could increase as OSU officials look at the prospect of moving from three commencements to two. That could involve removing Summer Commencement altogether if space is available to accommodate a larger Autumn Commencement, Steinmetz said.
“We used to have four (commencements). We’re now at three,” Steinmetz said. “There’s some belief that maybe the summer commencement could disappear and we could have two major commencements and so this becomes a logistic issue – for example, is there a space somewhere for a commencement for as big as we are in the Fall Semester?”
Steinmetz said a group is also studying this issue and should have a recommendation soon.