Sophomores are worried about the semester transition

Alex McLean

Every student and their grandma knows that for the 2019-2020 school year Augustana is switching from trimesters to semesters. For this years’ seniors, this means nothing. For the juniors, they have very little left to fit in to the remaining 34 credits. For the first years, they have yet to get used to the trimester schedule anyway, so this year was just a weird deviation from the norm. However, for the sophomores, we are caught in the middle of a stressful and altering mess.
Regarding the semester transition, I will focus primarily on the impact for STEM classes, as I cannot speak for the rest of the campus and the ways in which this transition affects the non-STEM majors.
Current sophomores spent two years with the trimester schedule. Sophomores were told they had plenty of time to fill their required classes, only to be struck with the semester schedule. While, we knew that in two years we would have to contend with 14-week courses, we never realized how stressful this would actually be.  Specifically, students with double majors and minors must figure out how to fit their extensive course loads into less time.
To combat this issue, the school decided to offer J-term courses. However, the J-term is not an extra class, it just factors into the Fall term. Someone trying to max out their credit load cannot also take a J-term. I cannot take a J-term during my junior year, as I have already maxed out my credits. Which means I have less time to fulfill the perspectives as I try to get all of my major classes finished.
Despite the negatives, there are some good qualities to the semester transition. For instance, difficult classes like organic chemistry can now be taught in 14-week increments rather than three 10-week increments. Splitting difficult classes into more manageable and slower taught courses would allow more time for studying and working on projects. However, given that many current sophomores have already completed the more strenuous courses for their major, they do not get to experience a more manageable schedule.
Regarding course changes, many incoming first years and rising sophomores will be given the opportunity to take the generalized chemistry and biology courses introduced into the new curriculum. Classes like BIOL 130 will introduce concepts which previously had been split into two or more classes. Additionally, there will be more specified chemistry courses which introduce students to the bases of very intuitive classes such as organic chemistry and biochemistry.
The semester transition is a very well thought out movement for Augustana. As annoyed as I am to not have been given 14 weeks to learn the first term and a half of organic chemistry, I feel this is a better scenario for the current first year and incoming first year students. These students can now learn more difficult courses or entirely new courses in a more time manageable time slot.
Additionally, the prospect of a free winter break, with the exception of the J-term, is nice to have. Studying during a family break is neither fun nor quality time spent. The rising juniors and seniors will have to get used to the semester schedule. However, once the initial trial period is over, the spread out workload should hopefully alleviate confusion and concerns about time for the remainder of required core classes.