FAQ – Q2S - Semester Conversion
Q: Why are we moving to semesters?
A: The RIT community has been discussed a possible calendar change for several years. These discussions involved students, faculty, and staff, and included many open forums and different proposed calendar options including alternative quarter calendars. As a result of these discussions, a number of reasons surfaced for making the change to a semester calendar at this time. Of these, the most important by far are those that have the potential to positively impact the quality of the educational experience that our students receive. These include:
- Semester calendars are currently in use at almost all other colleges and universities, and the adoption of a semester calendar at RIT will greatly facilitate our interactions with other institutions in such areas as credit transfer, student exchange, and study abroad opportunities for our students.
- There is a potential for improved student retention and graduation rates because semesters are 5 weeks longer than quarters, and entering freshmen will have a longer period to adjust to college before final exams than in the current quarter system. In addition, all students will have greater opportunities to recover from illnesses and other interruptions in their studies because of the longer duration of semesters. Finally, the elimination of the winter quarter disrupted by the holiday break should help in student retention since the rate of course failures earned by students at RIT is the highest during this period.
- A semester calendar will allow for the possibility of a true Rochester area academic common market as all other institutions in the area are on semester calendars. Such academic common markets have been created in other communities with multiple campuses, such as Boston, and have proven to be of real value to those students taking advantage of them.
- The proposed calendar will allow for the offering of an optional January mini-mester for students want to shorten their time to degree, want to earn some extra money to help pay for their education, or want to work intensively on student projects. This optional mini-mester will allow students to take one course in an intensive manner over a period of about four weeks.
- A semester calendar will better align our calendar to that of most other colleges and universities and allow the scheduling of winter and spring breaks at times similar to those adopted by other institutions. Our students would then have a better chance to see old friends during the academic year and to participate in cross-institutional education and public service programs that are increasingly offered during these break periods.
- The recent move of several other universities (e.g. Cincinnati, Northeastern) with strong co-op programs from quarters to semesters provides persuasive evidence that the move can be accomplished while sustaining this critical element in most of RIT's educational programs. (from the RIT Semester Conversion website)
Q: What does the semester calendar look like?
A: The semester calendar is available here.
Q: What about the intersession/J-term?
A: Dr. Destler indicated that the intersession/J-term/ mini-mester in January could… “allow students who fall behind time to catch up, shorten time to degree, earn extra money in between semesters to help pay for their education or work intensively on student projects.” The intersession will be three weeks in length and run from the first week in January through the third week or so of the month, depending on the year. Within this time frame, other extra-curricular activities could also be offered. Still to be determined are many details related to such things as housing, financial aid, academic offerings, and new student admission during this time.
Q: Will this change anyone’s job?
A: Yes! Changing to a semester system will impact everyone’s work on campus. Dr. Destler has stated: “We are committed to making sure that students are in no way affected by this conversion and therefore need to make sure that day-to-day operations can be maintained with our standard level of excellence. Our timetable will incorporate communications and will keep employees informed of the progress.” The way we work and operate as a campus will change, and the opportunity to develop new ways of providing a quality experience for our students will inevitably lead to new types of positions within the university. We are in the early stages of understanding the full impact of a change to semesters.
Q: Will this solve all of our time-related stress issues?
A: No! If you or students are stressed on a quarter system, you may still be stressed on a semester system. However, this change is an opportunity to make our programs and services efficient and effective---which may eliminate some stress for everyone. The year will feel different because of the term lengths, and the breaks will be somewhat different, especially the 3-week January intersession. These changes may make the year feel less time-pressured for some.
Q: How will the Wellness courses be restructured?
A: There will continue to be a wellness requirement for graduation, but the conversion of those courses is at the early stage of discussion.
Q: What happens to FYE?
A: The first-year enrichment course requirement may change to a 3-credit general education course required of all first-year students. This proposed change is being explored by a multi-divisional committee of professionals. Whether or not the FYE courses change, RIT remains committed to providing transitional support for new students coming to RIT.
Q: What about students enrolled at the time of the change from quarters to semesters?
A: Student input will be solicited at all stages of the planning process for the change to ensure that no student is harmed as a result of the transition. RIT pledges that all students enrolled during the transition from quarters to semesters will get full credit for courses taken before the transition and will graduate without any delay due to the change. This will apply to B.S. students, B.S./M.S. students, and all graduate students. In addition, students will see no increase in tuition or fees associated with the change. During the year prior to the change, all students will be advised as to how their prior work under the quarter system will be matched to future work under the semester system to fulfill all degree requirements. (from the RIT Semester Conversion website)
There are many questions without answers right now, but stay tuned…this is a work in progress!