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An Admissions Counselor's Honest Opinion on the Quarter System

  • Catherine Campbell-Perna
Posted on September 30, 2019
Why Drexel

I often get asked by parents of prospective students, "Isn't a quarter system more difficult than a semester system?". The truth is, if I had a choice between a quarter and a semester system, I would take the quarter system in a second. And, I'm not just saying this because I work in the Admissions office. I actually attended Drexel for both my undergrad and graduate degrees.   

The quarter system is very similar to the marking periods that I had when I was in high school. Drexel's academic quarters are only 10 weeks long plus a week of finals. I think my high school had about 9- or 10-week-long marking periods. In high school we had mid-term exams at the end of the 2nd marking period (about four-and-a-half months into the school year in January) and then finals at the end of the 4th marking period in June. The best part about Drexel's 10-week quarters — your finals are at the end of the 10 weeks. Now, you might think that would be a lot of information in a short period of time. But think of it this way… you only have 10 weeks of work to study. How many of you were stressed out during your high school finals week while you were trying to study information in June that you learned back in September? I have memories of that being the worst! Even at a semester school, you will need to study 15 or more weeks of material for your final exams.    

The truth is, if I had a choice between a quarter and a semester system, I would take the quarter system in a second. 

The other nice thing about the quarter system… you don't have any schoolwork over your break weeks. So, for example, in a semester school, your spring break is in the middle of the spring semester. You may have projects to work on, papers to write, and homework to do. You can't really enjoy yourself if you want to go away and relax if you have all that work hanging over your head. At Drexel, when you end your winter term in late March and take your finals, you are completely finished with those classes. If your finals are finished on a Wednesday, then you are finished for the quarter early. Your whole spring break week, you are free to do whatever you want. When your break is over, you start a new set of classes. You will have new professors and a whole new schedule for the spring term. And when you are an upperclassman you may even go on co-op after your spring break and not start classes again until September. That's how my schedule was during my second, third, and fourth year.  

Now, keep in mind, time management is important in college. It may be even more important in a quarter-system university. At the beginning of the quarter, each professor will give you a syllabus with a list of assignments, exams, and deadlines. Think of it this way — you will have less time to procrastinate.  

If you really love a class or a professor, you might be sad that the class ended that quickly. In that case, I would try to sign up for that professor again or sign up for the next level of the class. Or, you could ask that professor to be an advisor to one of your student organizations, like I did with Dr. Bishop and our Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). But if you don't like a class or a professor, it's over that much faster! And that's the beauty of the quarter system. 


Catherine Campbell-Perna is an Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Drexel University. In her free time, she can be found chauffeuring her 11-year-old daughter around to dance class or hoping that her husband decides that he doesn't feel like cooking dinner and that the three of them should go out to one of the many local restaurants in her Delco neighborhood.

Catherine Campbell-Perna

Catherine Campbell-Perna
Posted in Catherine Campbell-Perna