Students, faculty and staff are still trying to get used to the changes.

Last fall, at the beginning of the very first semester Cal Poly Pomona had ever had, students and faculty said they felt a mix of emotions regarding the huge shift from quarters to semesters. 

Now with the first semester behind us, members of the campus community weighed in on how it went. 

Students were welcomed back to the second-ever semester, but some changes are still difficult to take. (Eileen Qiu | The Poly Post)

One of the biggest changes that had the most impact from the conversion of quarters to semesters was time. The length of classes and the length of the term were affected. Class sessions that were originally 1 hour and 50 minutes under the quarter system are now 1 hour and 15 minutes under semesters. And although the classes are shorter, the term length is longer. 

Each quarter lasted 10 weeks, while each semester term lasts 15 weeks. 

Some students and faculty had different opinions when it comes to these changes. 

“When we were teaching in modules that were 1 hour and 50 minutes, that’s a long time to talk and it was easy to lose students’ attention,” said David Chadd, a philosophy professor. “At 1 hour and 15 minutes, I feel like classes are more manageable and the dynamic is better.” 

Chadd felt similarly about the longer term. “I come from humanities, [so] having 15 weeks gives us longer to talk about subjects that are complex and hard to digest,” he said.

Students seem to feel less enthusiastic about the 15-week term length compared to faculty. 

“I like how the quarter system is more fast paced. I worry about my grade more in quarters; during semesters there is a lot more time to slack off,” said Gabriel Jaime, a second-year marketing major. “The only thing I like about the semester is the shorter class time.” 

Lareen El Rifaei, a senior who has been at Cal Poly since her freshman year, says she liked the quarter system and enjoyed how the quarter system didn’t drag on.

“If there’s a subject you’re not too excited about having, you know it will be done in 10 weeks,” said El Rifaei, a fourth-year marketing management student. “As long as you stayed on top of your work, it was easier to get through the boring or hard classes. With semester being 15 weeks, it really drags out those classes and drains my energy and motivation.”

Other than changes in class and term length, there were also adjustments to the way credits are counted in the semester system. 

Most majors required a total of 180 units in the quarter system. In the semester system, most majors are now 120 units. 

Units acquired under the quarter system are converted to semester units by dividing the number of quarter units by 1.5, so in general, semester classes count as fewer units than quarter classes. 

There was some difficulty and confusion among students and faculty when it came to converting quarter units to semester units, while making sure students stayed on the same time table to graduate. 

“Every time I had a question about my classes, I felt like the counselors, department staff and professors were just as confused as I was,” El Rifaei said. “It was very stressful to even find the classes I needed because they are now under different names and numbers. Not all classes that were available during quarter are offered in semester. For someone like me who is planning to graduate this spring semester, needing some classes that weren’t offered in the fall semester was very stressful.” 

Every first is stressful, and change can cause an array of emotions. 

One good thing that did stay the same under semesters is the amount of money students pay in tuition. The only difference is that students pay their tuition twice a year instead of three times.

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