The USA has some of the best colleges and universities in the world. If you are planning to go to the United States for further studies, you should be aware of the semester system that prevails there.
Different universities have different methods of semesters. Some universities go with the semester system and some go with the trimester system, and some also conduct summer colleges.
Semester – It is called a semester system when one year of your college term is divided into two halves. Usually, each semester is made up of 15 weeks. After the end of these 15 weeks, there is a holiday of about three weeks.
Trimester – A trimester is a system where one year is divided into three halves. There are three examinations every year. Each part is about 12 weeks long, and there are longer breaks than three weeks to separate them.
Summer Terms – This kind of term exists only till summer. It is about 12 weeks long and only happens once a year in the summer.
Quarter System – A typical quarter system divides one academic year into four different parts. The four sessions are – spring, Fall, winter and summer. Summer session is a bonus session for students who want to take extra classes.
If you want, then you can also relax and go on holiday in the summer. Each quarter is usually ten weeks long. Depending on the credits, you can take 3 to 4 classes each semester.
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The Semester System
Most of the significant universities usually have a semester system. Both the semesters have their season, one starts in spring, and one starts in Fall. A year starts from early September and ends in May. There are midterm examinations as well in between the semesters.
These are called internal examinations. When one semester ends, there is another examination which is for determining the results of the semester so far. When you pass the test, you are promoted to the next semester.
The Breaks Between Semesters
These are the most common breaks that are almost provided in the every college/university of the United States. The first break is for the Fall Break, which starts around the first week of October.
Then in the third week of November, there is a break for thanksgiving. Then the most obvious break of the year, for Christmas. The Christmas break is usually more extended and starts mid-December and usually lasts until the first week of January.
Then the last major break of the year is the summer break. The summer break is the most extended break of the year. It starts mid-May and ends by July end. But you will likely be assigned with a lot of summer projects which will carry essential grades.
Semesters Vs Quarters
Let’s determine whether the semester system works better or the quarter system. Which method should you choose to get better results?
Job Opportunities – There will be job opportunities in both semester and quarter system of education. But the only difference is, there will be lesser job opportunities for students who are studying in the quarter system than students in the semester system.
This is because students in the semester system finish their college term one month before the quarter system students.
Transfer Students – This is one of the most significant issues for students who are in the quarter system. If you want to take a transfer to some other college after two years.
Most of the educational institutions follow a semester system which does not line up correctly with the quarter system schedule. This is why students who want to transfer from a quarter system institution to semester system institution will have to wait for a whole semester.
An Argument for Quarter System
While it is clear that there are distinct advantages of studying in a semester calendar system. You can still not ignore that the quarter system brings in more flexibility for the students.
Since there are lesser classes in each semester ranging up to 10 weeks in general, a student can be more focused in his/her studies. With semesters though, there are a lot of classes and several subjects to cover and prepare for all at the same time. This usually brings a lot of tension to the student’s mind.
Moreover, students will be more motivated to experiment with their subjects since the courses are shorter. With that, the students can also experiment with the faculty members for different topics.
So they can determine which item is best suited for which faculty member. Even when a student falls behind in some course, he/she will take much lesser time to cover up the difference when they are in a quarter system rather than the semester system.
In the semester system, if you fall behind, you are a whole semester back. The quarter system allows students to be more focused yet to be creative and experimental with their line of subjects.
Some of the other colleges have a little shorter or little longer semesters than the time mentioned above. But it is the average time of most of the semesters in most of the major universities/colleges of America.
So a semester will 15 weeks long followed by a three weeks holiday. Your college year will likely be comprised of 33 weeks. Because after the end of the second semester every year, you will get a more extended break for the start of the new term.
Each of the semesters will be filled up with classes you will have to attend to earn semester credits. Depending on the student, both semester systems and quarter systems are good. Even the trimester system is quite famous in America, and there are a lot of colleges that follow it.
Many of the textbooks, though are written in the way which will suit it best to be studied by a semester system student. But then, as mentioned above, it depends mostly on the student who will be the best form of system for him/her.