By Chris Snow
In 2014, the California State University chancellor and presidents of many of the campuses met and committed to a system-wide conversion of teaching and learning to the semester system.
The reasoning: Standardizing semesters across CSU campuses would make it easier for students to transfer from community colleges, the majority of which are on the semester schedule.
It would also be easier for high school students to transition into college because of their familiarity with the semester system.
“Having all the universities under one academic calendar provides certain advantages, one of them being the ability to transfer between [CSU] campuses more easily,” said Eric Fallis, CSU spokesman.
One issue concerning the transition to a semester system is decreased time for students and faculty to interact.
“This will not be changing,” said Francelina Neto, director of semester conversion at Cal Poly Pomona. “The contact hours will remain the same. The way class units are counted will be the only change.”
Much of the planning and implementing is behind the scenes.
Course offerings have been submitted and now await approval. Many classes have been approved and are ready to be catalogued for the new semester system.
One major difference between the quarter system and semester system is the amount of time offered in each structure.
A quarter at CPP lasts 10 weeks, while a semester will be 15 weeks. In addition, the quarter system provides three 10 week quarters”fall, winter, spring”with an optional summer quarter.
The semester system offers two semesters”fall and spring”with an option of a shorter summer session.
The university has faced challenges converting the quarter units to semester units, according to the CPP website for semester conversion.
The units correlate with what Neto calls contact hours – the time a student is in a classroom having contact with the instructor.
Another key issue is advisement.
Students who are 45 units or closer to graduation will be required to complete an Individual Academic Plan and meet with a counselor.
The goal expressed by Neto was to help as many students as possible to graduate prior to the transition.
All students will need to meet with their advisors and complete their IAPs. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of MyPlanner.
Neto explained that this is not only a useful tool for the students, but an invaluable tool for the faculty.
The faculty can use the information collected from MyPlanner to determine when and what classes need to be offered.
“The semester conversion is a partnership,” said Neto.
Students and faculty both have responsibilities.
The faculty have been trained to prepare for the change from quarters to semesters and are required to provide curriculum changes three years in advance.
Students are encouraged to touch base with their advisors to ensure that they are taking the classes necessary to graduate on time.
In addition, maintaining their GPAs and continuing to be informed about the semester conversion process will help students transition easier.
This year will bring major testing of system integration in preparation for the fall 2018 launch.
The university is currently working on steps to protect graduation timelines, meeting the needs of third-year and transfer students and mitigating the effects the semester conversion will have on student GPA and financial aid concerns.
Eviana Vergara / The Poly Post
What students will be expecting the semester conversion in fall 2018
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