For Whom the Bell Tolls
An obituary to the quarter system: 1922-2012
By Chris ScullinPosted May 30, 2012
As we enter into the final week of classes before summer break, we are forced to say goodbye to a longtime friend of nearly all who attend Ohio State: the quarter system.
Born in 1922, the quarter system has made a home at OSU for the past 90 years. This is 43 years longer than Brutus Buckeye, 77 years longer than Gordon Gee’s two terms as president combined, and the same amount of time as Ohio Stadium.
The quarter system was brought to OSU after it was decided that quarters would be a better alternative to the semester system, which will be returning again to replace quarters.
The quarter system was diagnosed as terminally ill in March of 2009 when the University Senate passed a vote to covert to semesters. Since then, students have been aware of the looming end of quarters. But even with over three years to grieve and say their final goodbyes, many students are still not ready to let go of such a dear friend.
“I honestly can’t think of anything I don’t like about quarters,” said Stacey Barrett, a third-year in psychology. “(Quarters are) what I've done and what I know.”
Quarters have surely brought us many fond memories, and there are many aspects of the quarter system that will be missed.
As part of the semester conversion, the university will be permanently disabling the bells that ring in between classes.
According to a press release from the university, the final bell will ring at 4:18 p.m. on Friday. Ohio State is one of the few schools that still uses bells, and although many classes begin and end at times other than 18 and 30 minutes past the hour, the bell system doesn’t allow variations.
On semesters, there will be no bells between classes. The university’s summer semester begins June 18.
Another feature of quarters to be missed is the flexibility of scheduling classes.
“(I'll miss) having no classes on Fridays,” said Luis Travino, a fourth-year in finance.
Others will miss the 10-week-long class terms, which will be extended to 14-weeks after the switch to semesters.
“I just get impatient, or I'll be ready for a class to be over, and 10 weeks sometimes feels like long enough already,” Barrett said.
These shorter lengths allowed students to spend less time in classes they disliked.
“It’s kind of nice to … have three sets of different classes all year instead of two, " said Kiefer Musselman, a third-year in animal sciences. “You’re still getting the same amount of classes in obviously, because they're not going to slow you down.”
Some students even fear that the loss of something as important as quarters could easily lead to a decline in the reputation of the university.
“We’re a research school right now,” said Rachel Helton, a fourth-year in social work. “With teachers also spending more time in the classroom it’s going to take down their research time. I feel like it’s just going to bring the prestige of OSU down to switch to semesters.”
However, with every death comes new life. In the case of the death of quarters, there comes the opportunity for new experiences.
One such opportunity is having a better chance for internships and jobs, as OSU’s schedule will now correlate more closely with other universities.
“(What I'll miss least about the quarter system is) the fact that it doesn’t correlate with internships,” said Mike Douglass, a third-year in finance real estate. “Most people get their internships in August. We have to wait until June to try and get the leftovers.”
Another new experience will be the student body’s return to campus prior to the start of football season rather than four weeks in.
“We get to see all the other games,” Douglass said. “We usually don’t see that the campus life is back for those games, so I definitely can’t wait for that.”
In the end, quarters had a good run at OSU, and they surely made a lasting impression on all they were involved with.
Friends and family are invited to the funeral, which will be held on Sunday, June 10, at Ohio Stadium at noon.