Switch to semesters a win for transfer students and everyone who hates winter term

I’ve never met a student at Augie who enjoys having to spend the last week of their winter break cramming. And by “cramming”, I don’t mean stuffing your face with gingerbread cookies and candy canes. I mean cramming as in stuffing your brain with notes, readings, and syllabi—all the material you worked so hard to comprehend and internalize over the first five weeks of the term…before it melted away like a snowman under the beating sun.
Your New Year’s resolution to not let your school life interfere with your social life? Well, for that you can thank the disjointed winter term, and trimesters—for there would be no disjointed winter term without trimesters.
Some in the Augustana community recognized the cruel and unusual nature of the winter term, and tried to do something about it. For the longest time, their repeated attempts over the years to switch from the semester system to the trimester system flopped, like Jimmy Carter’s efforts to switch from the imperial system of measurement to the metric system: proposed with good intentions and solid arguments (“Everyone around the world uses semesters/meters!”), but thwarted by an irrational affinity for the status quo.
I’m glad to say that this analogy no longer holds true: the meter never saw the light of day, and President Jimmy Carter never got his way, but the Augustana faculty did: in a 124-47 vote last May, the Faculty Council approved a recommendation to the Board of Trustees to replace trimesters with semesters beginning fall term of 2019. The Board has yet to accept the recommendation since trustees won’t be meeting until October, but the Board’s executive committee has expressed their verbal support, so it’s safe to say that trimesters are toast.
As I said before, this is a win for those wary of winter term. But it’s also a win for transfer students like me who have been inconvenienced by the trimester system.
When I attended Black Hawk College, I had every intention of transferring to Augustana after my winter break: I had the credits, the grades, and the scholarship. But then I realized one crucial thing I didn’t have: the timing. If I wanted to transfer in that academic year, I would have to wait another five weeks before I could begin the spring trimester.
I don’t know about you, but it didn’t sound appealing to me to have five weeks in the dead of winter with nothing to do. I would prefer to not start the spring term with a case of cabin fever. Plus, who wants to transfer in to a school during the spring, a time when all the students can’t wait for it to get out? Not me.
So, I chose to take another term of courses at Black Hawk, and eventually transfer to Augie the following fall. Luckily for me, I was able to maintain my GPA, keep my scholarship, and transfer to Augie in the fall of 2014. It made sense for me to wait it out like this, since I already live in Rock Island and was dead set on coming to Augie.
But what about all the other transfer students who aren’t dead set on Augie? Might it make sense for them to consider other colleges, particularly those that could accommodate them at mid-year? Of course it would. Not every transfer student is going to want to wait around like I did.
Think of all the students that Augustana has lost out on because of trimesters. Not only have trimesters cost the college financially—they’ve also cost the college socially, since transfer students bring fresh perspectives to the campus community. As one Washington Post article put it, “Transfer students also can alter the dynamics of a college campus. Unlike typical undergraduates, for instance, they often have far more experience in the ups and downs of the working world.”
Switching to semesters will send a signal to transfer students that they are welcome at Augustana, whether they choose to enroll in the fall or the spring.
I’ve heard some students complain about the switch, about how having to “learn” semesters will be such a drag. It may be a first-world problem to you, but it’s a boon to Augie’s enrollment, and, by extension, Augie’s coffers.
Can’t come to terms with a decision that’s in the best interest of the student body? Get over it. And if you can’t do that, then transfer out of Augie: the new semester system will make it all the more easy for you to do so.