Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Valentine's Day Bingo
February 24, 2024

Third week vote on switch to semesters

The Augustana Board will formally vote on the calendar’s switch to semesters at the Board meeting in October.
No official voting has taken place, but both the Faculty Council and the Board’s executive committee have expressed their verbal support. Their goal is for the change to take place in the fall term of 2019.
Currently, questions about the semester calendar’s design are being considered: will there be three and a half week immersion terms in January and May (J and May term)? Will courses be based on three or four credits? How many credits would students need to graduate?
Though several of those questions over the calendar are still being reviewed, Pareena Lawrence, provost at Augustana College, believes this will be a smooth change for Augustana students.
“We will ensure that all trimester courses will count toward majors, minors, and general education requirements, and students who are on track to graduate in four years from Augustana will still graduate on time. In other words, the transition will be seamless from a student’s perspective,” Lawrence stated in an email.
Advantages of the semester switch include more opportunity for community building as a result of less breaks, reduced stress for students and faculty on longer terms, reduced financial responsibility for international students, larger enrollment from transfer students, and more control over costs because of the customization of the trimester.
Disadvantages include losing the flexibility and variety of course options for trimesters and a possible reduction in focus with longer term weeks.
English professor Farah Marklevits trusts that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages for students and faculty alike.
“I am excited about the move to semesters. Personally as a teacher of writing I feel like having more time in one class will open up more opportunities for me to work more closely with students in revision. It’s really hard in a ten week term if you were going to assign three essays to go through drafts and give students feedback from their peers and individual conferences with instructors is very difficult,” Marklevits said.
As a former Augustana student and now professor, Marklevits feels that the school is making the right decision and keeping “what’s good about Augustana” good.
For many students, Augustana’s traditional trimester model was a major aspect that weighed into their decision to attend the college. First year Dakotah Kinsella will be part of the first class to go through the switch as a senior in the fall of 2019, and the choice to go to a school with trimesters was one she did not make lightly.
“I really had to analyze how I felt. In high school, even if I was in six or seven classes, I’d only want to focus on two or three. I thought it was vague learning: you would go from subject to the next without really learning it in high school, so the trimester was a big factor because it would really allow me to focus on understanding the material those two or three classes,” Kinsella said.
Kinsella is concerned about the effect the switch will have on other first-years and prospective Augustana students of the future.
“Personally I’m used to semesters, but I think in the long run, we’ll be so adjusted to trimesters that we won’t remember what its like to be a semester student. It’s going to take a lot of changes to get back on track with it.”

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Third week vote on switch to semesters