According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) study in 2017, students transferring college at least once account for about 35% of total US students. Most of them had to accept a 43% loss of credits along the transfer path due to US schools’ different credit systems.
Specifically, US colleges and universities use the two most common academic calendars: quarter credits and semester credits. Without credit conversion, transferred students would spend more time and money. This guide aims to shed light on how 2 systems are different from each other, factors when considering, and how to transfer studies from quarter to semester units or vice versa. As such, students can earn some money and time indirectly. It would also affect how long you can get your bachelor’s degree.
How Is A Quarter Unit Different From A Semester Unit?
The United States of America is the land of freedom, and its education system is no exception. Many schools choose to adopt the semester credit system. Meanwhile, others may implement a quartered calendar system, which grants students credits according to quarter credit hours.
Specifically, many US schools operate in the standard semester system. Their academic year would start in late August and end in early May of the following year. During this time, they start the first semester in the fall, followed by a winter break. The second semester starts in spring and closes with a long summer break at the end of the academic year. The number of courses students take in a semester depends on many factors, such as their time availability, the degree they are pursuing, and the school’s course load policies.
Meanwhile, there are four equally divided terms at schools on a quarter calendar. Schools using the quarter system will have quarterly fall, winter, spring, and summer sessions. Each session consists typically of 10 weeks. The quarter system is markedly shorter than the semester system.
Due to those differences, students in the quarter credit system tend to have fewer classes and credits per session than those in the semester system. The same course will take less time in a quarter system than in a semester system. Precisely, a quarter unit is weighted as ⅔ that of a semester unit. In that sense, you will need to accomplish more quarter-credit units to finish your degree than accreditation standards.
How Quarter vs. Semester Unit Systems Affect Your Tuition Fees?
You should pay more attention to different unit types, especially if you want to transfer schools. Be very careful before moving from quarter to semester units or semester to quarter units. Your transfer decision would lead to paying more tuition fees and spending more time because you don’t have enough credits after transferring and more paperwork, such as preparing an unofficial transcript of course.
For instance, you have been studying for a bachelor’s degree with quarter units. You have finished 2 courses, each of which consists of 3 quarter units. Once you transfer, these 6-quarter units are converted to only 4-semester units. In that case, your credits from previously 2 quarter-unit courses now only give you enough credits for one semester-unit course in case 1 semester course is equivalent to 4 credit units.
On the other hand, if both a semester-unit school and a quarter-unit school charge you $200 per credit, their actual total fees are entirely different. For a bachelor’s degree, let’s check an example of 120-semester credit units and 180 quarter credit units. For the semester-unit school, your bachelor’s degree costs $200×120. But the same bachelor’s degree will cost $200x 180 in a quarter-unit school. The amount will be hugely different.
The same matter will need your attention once you plan to transfer to a school on a different calendar from your current one. With your semester credits converted to relatively fewer quarter units, you need to study more at the new school to meet their required credits. In that case, your tuition expenses per year or in total would amount to much more than those in the old school, given the assumption that each unit costs the same money.
You need some basic math calculations to arrive at the conclusion. Plan carefully before you move!
Battle: Quarter vs. Semester – which one is better?
Some Believe Quarter Units To Be Better
Because quarter-unit courses take less time, many people prefer them. It is about an early exposure to the job market after graduation. With less time in training, you can enter the job market quicker with a great sense of accomplishment. The payback duration for your degree investment will be shortened consequently.
At the same time, you might have more time for extra courses during the same degree tenure if you wish. These can be complementary to your major or for your personal growth. With such extra effort, you may land in a more advantageous position when entering the workplace.
Yet There Are Downsides To The Quarter System
For a quarter system course, you could enjoy a relaxed schedule with fewer classes per quarter. However, the quarter system has a significant downside – internship opportunities. Most internships align with the traditional semester systems; hence, internships often kick off in summer – the time when students in the quarter credit system are still studying. As a result, students in the quarter system will have to proactively search for businesses flexible enough to adjust to the quarter schedule.
This internship limitation is a major disadvantage for students in the quarter system, especially when the job market is more and more demanding these days. Without internship experience, students would not graduate with the best resume, diminishing their recruitment chances. If you are currently in the quarter system or intend to attend one, note this carefully. Other than that, the quarter system offers great upsides, as mentioned earlier.
Many Choose To Follow The Standard Semester System
Many students take up the semester system because they believe that it can translate into more in-depth teaching. The longer the course, the better it is. Students would have more time on their hands to dig into challenging assignments. It could also facilitate students who wish to invest more time learning about advanced topics in the field.
Moreover, since high school, most students have been studying in the semester system. Hence, they trust that the semester system will ensure a seamless transition to college life. Besides, the semester system also helps them get adequate support from their faculty members when required. A shorter course in the quarter system might not have enough time for such a deeper relationship.
One more critical element is that each class will last up to 75 minutes only in the semester system, compared to the much longer ones in the quarter system.
Steps To Transfer From Quarter To Semester Units & Vice Versa
Preparation Is The Starting Point
First and foremost, you need to check ‘how many semester units for a bachelor’s degree‘. For accreditation in college, units are also called hours or credits. In all cases, you should contact the admission officer to figure out if your calculations are correct. But basically, you can estimate semester units as 1.5 times more than quarter units.
For example, a standard bachelor’s degree will require 120 credit hours under the traditional system. If you are to attend a college under the quarter credit system, the same bachelor’s degree will demand you 180 credit hours – or 180 quarter units.
As a semester unit is equal to 1.5 quarter units, a quarter unit is equal to 0.667-semester units. In other words, your associate degree under the conventional system takes 60-semester units or 90 quarter units. A master’s degree with 36-semester units will equal 54 quarter units. Such logic will apply further to any course available at college.
Now, It’s Time To Apply
No matter why you transfer your credits, you should ensure that the education you have paid for and the knowledge you have obtained will never go to waste. To make that happen, you should get a copy of your transcurrent school transcripts and carefully review your new school’s credit transfer policies. After that, you can submit your credit transfer application and request your new school to audit your records.
All The Hard Work Is Done, Then Wait For The Response
Your new school will base on the documents you have submitted to approve the completed credits applicable to your degree in the new school. Moreover, they would clearly instruct you on the credit transfer outcomes and what subjects you are credited or not to fulfill accordingly.
Either you are transferring from quarter to semester units or from semester to quarter units, the process should be remarkably similar.
The Final Thought
As the great Malcolm X, an African American Muslim human rights activist in the civil rights movement once said: “Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” You don’t want to waste your time pondering on whether to transfer your credits or study again. You’d better use that time to learn new things and prepare for your future. There are admission officers to help you proceed with your study seamlessly, and don’t forget to prepare a character reference list to ace any school interview.
Hope it helps and good luck! Thanks for reading Jobandedu‘s post involving to Career Advice.