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Why is that UC Berkeley, ranked the most rigorous UC, run on a semester system?

AnnoyinggirlAnnoyinggirl Posts: 215- Junior Member
edited July 2011 in California Colleges
UCB is, hands down, ranked the best and most rigorous public university in the nation, perhaps in the world. However, with the exception of UCB and UC Merced, all other UC's run on a quarter system. Why is the most rigorous school on a less rigorous system? And since UCB is so successful, why don't other campuses copy its example?

Which system do you prefer? And what were you experiences with each of them (if you had the chance to encounter only one, please tell me also!) Thanks
Post edited by Annoyinggirl on

Replies to: Why is that UC Berkeley, ranked the most rigorous UC, run on a semester system?

  • icenotmiceicenotmice Posts: 107Registered User New Member
    Wait, what's not "so rigorous" about a semester system?
  • Acuraman93Acuraman93 Posts: 306Registered User Junior Member
    ^ I haven't been to a school with a quarter system, but I will be going to one with it in the fall. I think it will be more rigorous because you have just 10 weeks to learn the material, not 4 months.

    Just because UCB does something doesn't mean it's right.
  • $KingsElite$$KingsElite$ Posts: 2,323Registered User Senior Member
    ^But then they give you more material to learn. A years worth of material still essentially comes out to a year's worth of material.

    @Annoyinggirl

    It's successful because there are top level professors there which attracts top level students, not because they're on the semester system.
  • hesdjjimhesdjjim Posts: 561Registered User Member
    Georgia Tech is also on the semester system. I challenge anyone here to find a student at Tech who says it's easy.
  • icenotmiceicenotmice Posts: 107Registered User New Member
    Exactly, the professors may try to squeeze in as much material as they can, but you'd probably learn a lot more if you are in the class for 4 months than 10 weeks. Also, classes from campus to campus are probably different. I wouldn't be surprised if a campus on a quarter system split the same one course on a semester system into two courses. The only real difference between them that is always true is that quarter system schools have more finals. Who's to say that UCB's classes don't give you more work or teach you more material JUST because they only have finals twice a year? Also, the semester system probably allows professors to go deeper into the subject and it would ingrain the material into your mind better, because you spend more time on it.
  • leclochelecloche Posts: 15Registered User New Member
    Into the wayback machine we go with: in 1972-1973 UCB decides to go to the quarter system to synch finals with seasonal holidays. Sounds reasonable. I remember the rest of the UCs grumbling about Berkeley elitist separatism (I am not making this up) but eventually following suit a year or two later depending on the school. I entered UCLA in the Fall of '73 the first quarter of the quarter system for the Big U. Maybe five or six years later (I forget; it was the 70s people) UCB returns to the semester system and starts lobbying for the others to change. In anger, the rest of UC grumbles about particular batches of recreational pharmaceuticals available in Berkeley seven years previously (no seriously, I am not making this up. UC intra-university squabbles are like that) and tells UCB to take a hike. And that leaves us where we are now.
  • liek0806liek0806 Posts: 3,316Registered User Senior Member
    I'm not sure if it's like this at other quarter schools, but at UCLA, a full time schedule which is anywhere from 12-18 units is usually 3-5 classes. At a semester school, 12-18 units is usually 4-7 classes. At UCLA, I think most students take 3-4 classes on average, while I imagine at a semester school 5-6 is the average. I think the difference in time 10 weeks for a quarter vs 18 weeks(or is it 16 or 20?) for a semester works out equally. 3-4 classes(depending on the subject) on a semester schedule is arguably a very light load. I think the fact that students take more classes in a longer amount of time is reasonable and comparable to the full time schedule(which is less classes) at a quarter. If anyone were to take 5-6 classes(or the equivalent of over 20 units in one quarter), then it could be unmanageable for some. That is why you have 3 quarters vs 2 semester in each system. In the end it all adds up. 3-4 classes for each 3 quarters=10-12 classes. 5-6 classes every semester for 2 semesters =10-12 classes.

    I think the main difference between quarter vs semester is that you arguably have more free time out of the class per week(you only have to go to 3-4 classes in the week) but that extra time is used for studying, planning schedules, enrolling, midterms, assignments and finals which all happen very fast vs in the semester system where you have less free time out of class, but your midterms/finals/assignments are more spread out and thus aren't as pressured to always be on top of everything that is going on.

    If we are defining rigor by intensity and the short amount of time per quarter, then consider the smaller amount of classes one does take in a quarter. If it's a matter of learning your material sooner in the short amount of time, I think it becomes a matter of perspective. I've been in both, and the benefit to quarters is that if you really don't like a class, but you have to take it, or if you really don't like a professor, you don't have to stress out as much because you spend less time dealing with the stressful situation that time enhances in a semester system. Obviously perspective can also make the opposite scenario, where you like the class or professor, seem like a con.
  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus Posts: 36,297Registered User Senior Member
    liek0806 wrote:
    I'm not sure if it's like this at other quarter schools, but at UCLA, a full time schedule which is anywhere from 12-18 units is usually 3-5 classes. At a semester school, 12-18 units is usually 4-7 classes. At UCLA, I think most students take 3-4 classes on average, while I imagine at a semester school 5-6 is the average.

    Actually, a typical course load at Berkeley is 4 courses per semester, since most courses are 4 units, some are 3 units, and relatively few are other unit values like 0.5 (PE activities), 1, 2, 5, or 6. The "normal" load is 15 units per semester; 120 units are required to graduate.

    At some semester schools, or in some majors, it is more common for courses to be 3 units, so the "normal" load of 15 units would usually need 5 courses per semester.

    This appears similar to quarter system schools. A quarter unit is 2/3 of a semester unit, and an N quarter unit course theoretically has 2/3 the material as an N semester unit course. E.g. freshman calculus is usually two semesters or three quarters of 4 unit courses (i.e. 8 semester units or 12 quarter units). Same material, same class time, just divided differently.
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