I'm a transferring junior (assuming I get accepted), and I've never had a quarter system. Ever since 7th grade, I've been straight semester system.
Here's what I've heard regarding the quarter system:
-3 quarters in an academic year.
-Allows for a greater variety of classes.
-Super fast paced.
So, what would I like to know?
-How did you get used to the quarter system? I'd rather not end up with low grades my first two quarters trying to get used to the pace.
-Is it really that different from a semester system?
hi. I just transferred this year and I would say that I like the fast pace of the quarter system. When I was in the semester system at my community college, I felt like the classes were being dragged out. To some people, this might make them become worked out or lazy near the end of the semester. The quarter system is great because of how much you get done in 10 weeks, but you have to make sure you stay on top of things or else you will be left behind by the class (i.e. read, take notes, read more, do hw). Getting behind in a quarter system is not like getting behind in a semester system. You will have less time to catch up so you have to make sure you are on top of things. I recommend taking a few units less than you are used to so you will be able to adapt to this new system. Don't try to overwhelm yourself in your first quarter at a UC. Risking your gpa is not worth a few more quarter units.
Yes, there are three quarters in the academic year (counterintuitive, I know. I think it's because summer is technically a quarter.) Assuming you take around 4 classes per quarter, it definitely gives you the option to take more classes, which is a huge plus.
I'm only in my first quarter right now, but it's definitely true that it's fast paced. I had my first midterm and first project due the third week of school. The best advice I can give you is to study long before it feels like you need to. I had heard how overwhelming the quarter system is, so I started studying the first week of school; so far, it hasn't been all that bad to be honest. It is easy to fall behind because there seems to be something due or some test every week, but you can easily counteract that by staying proactive. I'm not sure how college quarters compare to college semesters, but I definitely love the quarter system. I feel like I just got here and I'm already signing up for winter quarter classes soon! Honestly, as long as you come in anticipating how fast it is, you should do fine.
Oh, and good luck getting into Davis! It's an amazing school
I'm a transfer student this fall, and it was quite easy for me to get used to the quarter system--it was like summer sessions at my community college, only with 2 more weeks tacked on (summer session at community college was 8 weeks long, and a quarter is 10 weeks long). You definitely have to stay on top of things though, like make a calendar or use a planner to write down deadlines and test dates. However, if you're not quick at picking up new info, it can be rather daunting, because by the time you finally grasp something taught in the first 2 weeks of classes, it may already be midterm time!
When it comes to orientation, your orientation leaders and advisors will tell you not to take more than 13-15 units your first quarter in order to get used to how things are at UCD. I'm only taking 3 classes for a total of 13 units right now, and believe me, even though it's only 3 classes, there's still a lot of work and studying involved!
I transferred this year as well. I can't say the difference has been huge or as daunting as I thought it'd be! I was really nervous about this but actually like how quickly we go through material. You have to keep yourself paced, yes, but it is manageable and I'm taking 3 classes this quarter which has helped with the adjustment. I also like being able to take new classes right away, rather than waiting 5-6 months lol. You will get adjusted once you develop a flow of things.
good luck on applying! I can't believe I was in your position just a year ago. Time flies!!
Is it really that different from a semester system?
Yes and no. You will find that at UC Davis there are no "review day" lectures. Every class meeting is important and teaches vital material. You may have the misfortune of having a midterm exam during your third full week of class; if not, you will almost certainly have one during the fourth week of class.
Taking into account those differences, I find the pace to be similar to the semester system. There's only so much you can learn at one time and still retain information. So to me the real difference is how much less "wiggle room" you have. You are expected to read your syllabus and not all teachers will tell you when an assignment is due the following class. You are expected to attend all lectures and discussion sections and office hours for challenging classes will be jam-packed with students so that you cannot waste a professor's time getting a "make-up" lecture.
The other difference is that you'll have more things going on at once, because registration comes around about halfway through the quarter. Also as a junior you'll have career- and grad-school-related events to attend, as well as internships and research to find. Hopefully you'll take advantage of the huge community to join some social, athletic or academic clubs or activities as well.
If you take 12 units at Davis, prepare as you would usually prepare for taking 15 units. If you have 15 units at Davis, prepare like you would if you were taking 18 units. This applies to your entire first year. You won't be able to fully acclimate in a semester because of all the extra things that will demand your time as a junior at a huge research university—regardless of whether you're on the semester or quarter system.