LIMA — Her summer break was shorter than she’s used to, but most of Amanda Williams’ friends from other schools have been heading back to campus about now all along.
The OSU-Lima early childhood education major began her third year on campus Wednesday, about a month earlier than when the school operated on quarters.
“It does seem like it is early,” Williams said before heading to her first class of the year.
OSU-Lima, Rhodes State College and Wright State-Celina were among the fewer than 15 state schools to still be on quarters. The Ohio Board of Regents mandated that all move to semesters this school year, and officials have spent the past three years preparing for the massive transition.
“It was a marathon,” Rhodes President Debra McCurdy said of the heavy workload this past shortened summer. “A tremendous amount of work.”
Moving an entire campus from a 10- to 15-week calendar is harder than one might think. It has meant changing all materials, catalogues and websites and figuring out classroom space. The toughest work, officials said, has been adjusting course work. Between the main and regional campuses, OSU had 16,000 courses to adjust.
“Not only did faculty have to adjust the content, from an administrative standpoint, we’re changing the rhythm of university life from three terms to two,” said OSU-Lima Associate Dean Allison Gilmore.
There is a lot of space pressures, Gilmore said, in offering more classes in one term. The school year started at both schools with few glitches. McCurdy suspects tweaks will be needed during this first transition year.
Admissions staff and advisers at both schools have spent much time preparing students for the change. Gilmore said OSU has pledged that the conversion will not delay students’ graduation as long as they meet with their advisers and stay on top of the process.
Williams said the semesters force students to look ahead a little more to make sure they can take the classes they need. That comes from schools sometimes having fewer options of when to offer a class.
Williams sees the benefits of semesters, both as a student and president of several campus organizations. Semesters bring the challenge of finding a common time for student groups to meet, but also cuts out one round of figuring out schedules.
“Before we were battling three different quarters and three different times to meet through the year,” she said. “Now, you only have to battle two schedules. Once you find a good time to meet, it is set for 15 weeks instead of 10.”
The change will make transferring to and from either school much easier. Most schools around the state and country are on semesters, McCurdy said.
Rhodes offered 898 courses under quarters and now offers 665. Students can split a semester into two terms, adding options for students they did not have under quarters.
“It gives better options for our student population,” McCurdy said. “Our average age is 26, and people are combining their personal lives with coming back to college and work schedules. Those eight-week sessions often times are better suited for those adults who want to get in and get out.”
When hearing complaints about starting earlier, school officials remind of an early May dismissal and graduation date. It will come about a month earlier. That will be good for students wanting to get internships, Williams said.
“Before, a lot of the other schools were already out so people would take someone else before an OSU student just because they were able to start earlier. Now we can compete better,” she said.
The change is also better suited, Gilmore said, for studying abroad and going to work over the summer. She added that teaching seminars, Fulbright and other opportunities for teachers are largely constructed based on the semester format.
Rhodes hopes to benefit from students coming home from college during the summer and wanting to pick up courses while home. Before, McCurdy said, students didn’t want to wait for the summer session to begin.
“There have been missed opportunities for Rhodes State,” she said, adding that the change will also be better for business and industry wanting to hire graduates as soon as possible.
Gilmore, who continues to teach, has always thought semesters were better for teaching and learning.
“It is just an uncivilized pace almost to try to get so much information into such a short time period with quarters,” she said. “This will be much better in terms of students’ ability to do research and absorb information.”