Ask any Drexel student what the quarter system lacks and they’ll tell you time.
It’s hard to come by here. We get ten weeks to learn everything that our friends on the semester system learn in 15. Doing the math, one can pretty easily calculate that they get a little more than a whole month more than us (35 days or 840 hours) to get their studies down pat.
Until you’ve taught or studied on the quarter system, it’s hard to understand what it’s like to lose that extra month, or imagine the amount of stress a ten-week term adds to a student’s schedule.
Most members of the administration here at Drexel are highly qualified individuals, wielding various degrees from semester schools. A few months ago, back in June, they announced that the amount of time students would get to add or drop classes at the beginning of a term would change from two weeks to just one.
We can see how this decision makes sense on paper. They saw that students who were adding new classes Week 2 were falling wildly behind and thought ‘Well, that’s because they’re missing a whopping 20 percent of their term! If students are adding classes too late and falling behind, then why don’t we just decrease the add/drop time to one week? That’s 10 percent of the term. It’s not that different from the 13 percent of the term that students on the semester system are given to decide with a two week drop period. There. Problem solved. Easy peasy.’
However, to most students, including ourselves, the problem did not appear to be solved. For those of us that routinely take higher course loads with 18, 19 or 20 credits, we depended on those two weeks to gauge the amount of work our classes would expect and our compatibility with our professors to determine if we could swing that schedule for the entire term. To boil all of that decision making down to just one week is unfair — especially given what the first week of classes at Drexel usually entails.
Not familiar? Allow us to enlighten you. Week 1 at Drexel, lovingly referred to as syllabus week, is notoriously simple and overwhelming at the same time. The first day of classes is usually devoted entirely to syllabi. The professor goes over it with everyone. They try and make jokes, while you try and figure out if you can tell by their smile or the way they move their hands when they speak if they grade fairly. Some classes only meet once per week, and if that’s the case, good luck figuring out whether you’d like to drop it or not because you certainly won’t have much data to come to that conclusion with. If you meet a second time Week 1, you’ll probably skim the surface of your course material in lecture. You might get an assignment, but you have no idea if you’ve completed the assignment up-to-par until you get it back Week 2.
Given the content of the classes in Week 1, any Drexel student would be hesitant to tell you that what they learn over the course of those five days provides any indication of what their classes will be like in the following nine.
Many of us needed that second week to come to a firm conclusion about the weight of our course loads, and whether we could handle all that we signed up for.
While the math Drexel administrators used to make this decision adds up and the data on students falling behind is undoubtedly true, we feel as if they forgot to include a pretty important factor in this decision — student input.
We all have opinions about things like Drexel’s add/drop time frame because it affects us every term. We know what works with the quarter system and what doesn’t because we (no trademark violation intended) live it.
Before making decisions like these, administrators should be meeting with students to get their take on the situation because it is the student and not the administrator that this policy will affect.