The difference between a Quarter college and a Semester collegeby Matt Lupton
Jul 19, 2000
Being a college student that has attended both a quarter based collage (Ohio University) and a semester based college (Bowling Green) I hear the question, "What's the difference between the two systems?" quite frequently.
It seems many people simply don't know the difference, I know I didn't. It didn't think it could be that big of a deal, but let me tell you the difference is huge.
The biggest difference is that in a semester based college you register for classes twice, take two sets of exams, and buy books twice. While in a quarter based collage you register for classes three times, take three sets of exams, and buy books three times (you also pay three times DOH!) This means if you go four years to a quarter based system, you've taken about 15 more classes than a student that attended a semester college with the same major. You've also paid for four more sets of books, and anyone that's been to college knows how much these cost. I bought new books my first quarter (mistake!) and it cost me over $350, you can get the same books used for about $150 I've found.
The next thing to be aware of is how often you have to go to classes. In a semester college classes count for 3 hours on average, this means you have to go to class 3 hours a week. Normally that'll be three times a week, but you can also get it twice a week. In a quarter college classes count for 5 hours on average. That means you have to go to each class 5 hours a week, that means you have to go to every class every day!
What about the hour difference, you ask. At both colleges 12 hours is considered full time, however 13-15 is considered a normal load at a semester college, while 15-17 is considered average at a quarter school. So at a semester college you'll take 4 or 5 classes a semester, at a quarter college you'll take 3-5, depending on the hours of these classes. This is why you end up taking so many more classes at a quarter college than at a semester college. And more classes mean more books and more of the dreaded finals.
The other major difference is the length of the class period. What I mean by that is, at a quarter school you go about 8 weeks a class, a semester is about 12 weeks. Even with this big of a time difference the cost of the two colleges I've attended has be almost exactly the same for a quarter or a semester. It's much more less expensive to attend a semester based college.
Personally I hated the quarter based college and transferred to a semester college as soon as I could. I'd recommend finding a semester college if at all possible, the classes are less times per week, you buy less books, you pay for less terms, and you take less finals.