One thing for future college students to keep in mind when deciding what school to attend is the division of the academic year at universities. There are two systems that most universities usually use: the quarter system, and the semester system.

The semester system is made up of two different terms in the fall and spring. These terms are both fifteen weeks long with one additional week of finals totaling up to thirty-two weeks of schooling each year. On the other hand, the quarter system is made up of three different terms in the fall, winter, and spring. These three terms are each ten weeks long with one extra week of finals, which makes a total of thirty-three weeks of schooling each year. The fifteen week semester terms, allows for students to take more classes in a slower pace term, while the quarter system allows students to take a little fewer classes, but at a faster pace.

Semester System


-Less school. The semester system has one less week of school than the quarter system.

-Huge winter break. The semester system does not have a winter term and this, in turn, means you get winter breaks that are around 6-7 weeks long.

-Less midterms and finals. A very nice characteristic of the semester system, is that compared to the quarter system,  there is one less midterm and final, simply because there is one less term each year.

-Slow pace. The slower pace means that you will only go to the same class only twice a week, it’s a little less stressful, and you can take more classes per term.


-Less classes overall. Even though,  in the semester system you can take more courses per term, you will most likely take less classes overall (around ten in a year, instead of around twelve.) At the end of four years, you could be taking eight fewer classes than you would in the quarter system. So, even though each class you take will be longer, you will take a smaller variety of classes.

-Worse summer vacation. In my opinion (and in the opinion of the calendar) the summer is from late June to late September. With the semester system, however, your summer break is usually from mid May to mid August, which is about half during the spring and half during the summer.


Quarter System


-Quick pace. While slow pace is a pro for some, a quick pace is a pro for others. Some people prefer having time to settle into their classes, and some people prefer to be always moving, which in turn may make the year go by faster.

-More classes. Having more classes per year is better for a couple of reasons. For one, you can use your freshman year to take a larger variety of classes and try to figure out what you’re interested in studying. Another reason, is that each class is worth less, meaning if you do badly one term, you can use the other two terms to make up for it, and even out your GPA.

-Get through sequence courses faster. For example, taking macro economics and micro economics on the quarter system will take two terms to complete (twenty weeks), and would take two terms (thirty weeks) at a school on the semester system.

-Get through hard classes faster. If you really dislike a course, you only have to sit through it for ten weeks before you begin a new set of classes.


-Exams. Every five weeks you will be taking midterms or finals.

-More school. Not necessarily a con for everyone, but on the quarter system there are more classes, more tests, more homework, and more weeks of school.


Have any opinions on the semester and quarter systems? Let us know in the comments!