Semester Conversion Questions and Answers

In the fall of 1998, Dalton State College, along with the entire University System of Georgia (USG), converted from the quarter system to the semester system. The Semester Conversion Committee has been reviewing the implications of this change and, in accordance with the Board of Regents Proposal on General Education and the Core Curriculum, is making recommendations to the Academic Council which provide for implementation of semester conversion in a manner that is consistent with our stated mission.

While additional directives from the Board of Regents may be forthcoming, the Semester Conversion Committee has designed this document to acquaint the Dalton College Faculty, Student Body, Professional Staff, and other interested persons with the conversion process and the many changes associated with it. The Committee has solicited questions from the faculty and student body and has attempted to answer those questions within this document. The reader should expect changes in these responses to occur as we move closer to the conversion date. As you will see, not all of the answers are available, while others may be subject to reinterpretation in the event that subsequent guidelines are issued from the Board of Regents. The responses presented below represent the best answers that the Semester Conversion Committee now has for these frequently asked questions. This document will be updated accordingly.

TRANSITION STUDENTS

1. What is a "Transition Student?"

A transition student is a student who starts at Dalton College under the quarter system and has not completed a program of study when the semester system is implemented.

2. Will there be a problem for students who begin their studies under the quarter system and complete their work under the semester system? Will they lose credit hours?

The guiding principle of the semester conversion process is "Do not hurt the student." In other words, every effort will be made to see that a transition student loses not credit during the changeover to the semester system.

3. If a student knows that he or she cannot complete a quarter system degree before the semester system begins, how can that student and and advisor best prepare for the transition?

The student and advisor need to start planning now for the changeover if they know that the student will not complete a degree by the end of Summer Quarter, 1998. Students who started at Dalton College in Fall Quarter, 1996, can complete their programs prior to implementation of the semester system if they continue to attend full-time or attend summer school. Students who fall behind may still be able to graduate prior to the conversion if they attend summer quarter and make up the classes missed. Obviously, many part-time students will not be able to complete a degree prior to Fall Semester, 1998, and will graduate after the conversion.

4. What can a student do to plan for semester conversion?

First, if you are close to graduation, try to complete all requirements under the quarter system. Second, if you cannot graduate under quarters, complete all sequence courses that you have started under the quarter system before the conversion to semesters. In some instances it may be better to postpone beginning sequence courses until after conversion to semesters takes place. Third, delay other courses that do not have to be taken in sequence in favor of needed sequence courses until the semester system begins.

5. After the semester system goes into operation, can a student still graduate under the core curriculum which accompanied the quarter system?

Yes, students who start at Dalton College prior to the Fall Semester, 1998, will have the option of graduating under either the quarter system curriculum or the new semester system curriculum. However, any student who starts at Dalton College in the Fall Semester, 1998, or later must graduate under the new semester system curriculum.

6. Can a transition student still graduate under a catalog which uses the quarter system?

Yes, as long as that catalog was in effect while the student was in attendance at Dalton College. Transition students and their advisors should determine their remaining program requirements under both quarter and semester catalogs. While no significant differences in remaining requirements should exist, some differences in the specific courses needed to complete a program may occur.

7. Will it take longer for transition students to graduate?

The University System of Georgia and Dalton College are committed to the ideal that transition students will not lose any credit or need additional time to graduate because of the switch to semesters. However, since there are differences between quarters and semesters, transition students will need to work closely with their advisors to make sure they are meeting their program requirements efficiently.

8. Once the semester system has begun, how will a transition student who chooses to graduate under the quarterly program of study convert semester hours into quarter hours?

If a transition student chooses to graduate under a quarter catalog, the following table of credit hour equivalents is in effect:

Semester Hours Quarter Hour Equivalent
1 1.5
2 3
3 4.5
4 6

Transition students who began their studies at Dalton College under the quarter system and an appropriate quarter curriculum and who complete their program of study under the semester system schedule, will have their course work converted on a course-by-course basis for graduation purposes. Individuals who have successfully completed all required courses will be eligible to graduate, even if they have earned fewer hours than normally required for graduation.

9. What about those transition students who decide to graduate under a semester catalog? How will they convert their completed quarter hour totals into semester hour totals?

If a transition student chooses to graduate under a semester catalog, the following table of credit hour equivalents will be used:

Quarter Hours Semester Hour Equivalent
1 2/3
2 1 1/3
3 2
4 2 2/3
5 3 1/3

ACADEMIC ISSUES

1. Under the semester system what constitutes a full-time course load?

For the purpose of calculating financial aid under current Federal guidelines, students are classified as full-time when they are taking at least 12 semester hours. A student who is taking between 9 and 11 semester hours is considered 3/4 time, while a student load of between 6 and 8 semester hours is considered half-time. Any student taking 5 semester hours or less is considered less than half-time.

For the purposes of insurance, 12 semester hours (approximately four courses) is considered full-time.

2. What semester load constitutes an overload requiring the approval of the Dean of Academic Affairs?

Fifteen hours (or five courses) of academic course work is considered a normal academic load. Eighteen hours constitutes an overload which requires the approval of the Dean of Academic Affairs.

3. How many semester hours are required to graduate from the transfer program?

Transfer programs will require 60 semester hours of academic course work (twenty courses) plus First Aid/Adult CPR and three Physical Education activity courses for completion. Transition students who began their programs of study under the quarter curriculum and have decided to graduate under the semester curriculum should end up with at least 60 semester hours.

4. Will students still be allowed to drop courses without academic penalty by mid-term under the semester system?

Yes. Presumably this date will be around mid-semester.

5. Under the semester system, will Grade Point Averages (GPA) be figured differently?

No. GPAs will still be computed by multiplying the number of credit hours of a course by quality points earned (A=4; B=3; C=2; D=1; F or WF=0) and then dividing the total of quality points by the total of credit hours attempted.

6. How will semester conversion affect class status (i.e., freshman, sophomore)?

A student will be classified as a freshman until 30 hours are completed. After 30 hours are completed, the student will become a sophomore.

7. Will conversion to semesters change the course numbering system?

The conversion will change both course prefixes and course numbers from three characters to four. For example, ENG 101 will become ENGL 1101, and HIS 251 will become HIST 2111.

FINANCIAL ISSUES

1. How will the change to semesters affect tuition charges?

The Board of Regents, which establishes tuition rates, has not yet announced whether there will be a cap on tuition under the semester system, such as the cap which currently exists for students who carry a twelve quarter hour class load. However, the tuition will now be paid twice a year (for two semesters) instead of three times a year (for three quarters). No major tuition hike is expected to accompany the changeover.

The subject of tuition rates probably will not be addressed until the Board is prepared to seek funding form the state legislature for the 1998-99 academic year. The cost of one semester will be higher than that of one quarter; however, the yearly cost of the semester system should be roughly equivalent to that which exists under the quarter system.

2. How will semester conversion affect Financial Aid for students?

Student access to Federal and State Financial Aid should not be affected by the change. The amount of student assistance received will still be based on whether the student is full-time, three/fourths-time, half-time, or less than half-time. However, in order to insure that aid is available at the time of registration, students will need to apply for assistance earlier than they do now because the Fall Semester will start in August instead of September.

PROGRAMS OF STUDY

1. Should students in the career or certificate programs expect major changes in their programs of study or are the curriculum changes limited to the transfer program? How many hours will be necessary to complete the certificate/career programs?

All career and certificate programs will also be converted to the semester system in the fall of 1998. The Technical Division has been reviewing program curricula in preparation for conversion. One-year Certificate Programs and two-year Career Degrees should still take the same length of time to complete (assuming the student is enrolled full-time).

2. What changes will occur in the Nursing Program because of semester conversion?

The Registered Nursing program of study will consist of 70 semester hours, of which 33 will be general education hours and 37 hours will be in the major field. The major change students will see is the replacement of Medical Math (MAT 102) by Mathematical Modeling (MATH 1101). Students who enter into the major field courses in Fall Quarter, 1997, will make the transition to the semester system via coursework in the Summer Quarter, 1998.

3. Will the Dalton College Studies (DCS) programs continue to carry institutional credit only or will it be transferable to other colleges within the USG system?

The Dalton College Studies courses will continue to carry institutional credit only. Dalton College Studies 1101 (currently DCS 101) will be a two hour course. Dalton College Studies 1105 and 1110 (currently DCS 105 and DCS 110) will carry one hour of credit.

4. Will the developmental course structure change?

Reading and English developmental studies courses will each carry 4 semester hours of institutional credit. Mathematics courses will be taught in half-semester blocks for 2 semester hours credit each. Those students who need developmental studies courses in all three areas and who also need to be enrolled full time may take reading, English, and back-to-back mathematics courses for a 12 hour semester load.

5. What will be the physical education requirement under the semester system?

All full-time students must earn one physical education credit hour for each semester in which they are enrolled for one or more day classes. Physical education credits are not required for those semesters in which students are enrolled for fewer than twelve credit hours or in which they are enrolled in evening classes only. The maximum physical education requirement will be four semester credit hours which includes three activity courses and PHED 1000 (currently PED 100).

6. Will Standard First Aid/CPR remain a graduation requirement under the semester system?

All students must complete Standard First Aid (PHED 1000) with a grade of "C" or higher or they must present evidence of current certification in Standard First Aid and Adult CPR (or equivalent training) as a graduation requirement. Credit received for PHED 1000 or its equivalent may also be applied toward the physical education requirement.

7. What will happen to the Mathematics 106-107 sequence?

It will be impractical to stretch a one semester course over an entire academic year. Therefore, there will be no equivalent sequence under the semester system. In addition, MAT 106 will not be offered during the Spring Quarter, 1998, and MAT 107 will not be offered during the Summer Quarter, 1998. Students who opt for this sequence must finish no later than the Spring Quarter, 1998.

To accommodate students who have difficulty with mathematics, the core mathematics course (MATH 1101, Mathematical Modeling) will be offered in two versions: (1) A course that meets Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for 50 minutes each day, or Tuesdays and Thursdays for 75 minutes each day, or (2) a course that meets five days a week for 50 minutes each day. Both versions carry 3 semester hours credit. The class that meets five days a week can proceed at a slower pace per class and cover each topic more thoroughly.

SEMESTER CALENDAR AND SCHEDULING

1. What will the calendar look like during an average year? When will semesters start and end?

The Dalton College Calendar Committee will continue to create the yearly calendar as it presently does. You can expect the Fall Semester to start around the beginning of the last full week in August. The semester will run for fifteen weeks and conclude about the end of the first full week. The second week of December will be the final exam week which should run for five days. You can expect the Spring Semester to start the second full week of January. Classes will again last for fifteen weeks with a one week Spring Break in early April. Classes will end in early May. Final examinations will normally take place over a five-day period at the end of each semester. Commencement exercises will take place in mid-May.

The Semester Conversion Committee has recommended a summer program which has two sessions of five weeks each. Day classes will meet five days per week, and night classes will meet four days (Monday through Thursday) per week. The first summer session will begin one week after spring semester has concluded and will end in mid-June. The second summer session will begin immediately after the first session and will finish at the end of July. There will be a three week break before fall semester begins. Selected summer courses will run longer than five weeks.

Dalton College has added a "Reading Day" to the semester schedule. This "Reading Day" provides students with a final opportunity for study between the last day of classes and the first day of finals.

2. What will the semester class times look like? What will be the length of day and evening classes?

The regular schedule will include classes that meet either two or three times each week. Classes that meet three times per week for the entire semester will last fifty minutes. Those that meet twice per week for the entire semester will last seventy-five minutes. The majority of morning classes offered by Dalton College under the semester system will meet either three times a week (Mondays-Wednesdays-Fridays) or twice a week (Tuesdays-Thursdays). Afternoon classes will meet twice per week, either Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays. Evening classes will also meet twice a week, either Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays. The daily schedule will begin at 7:30 a.m. as it currently does. Night classes will end at 10:15 p.m. The mid-day activity period for clubs and intramurals will return to the schedule three days per week, Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m.

3. How will the semester system affect summer course work?

The basic answer is that students will earn fewer hours over the summer because there is not enough time to have a complete fifteen-week semester. Under the quarter system a full time student could complete up to 15-16 hours (three courses) during the summer. But under the semester system, full-time students could take up to 12 semester hours (four courses).

GENERAL

1. What adjustments will students have to make to manage five academic courses instead of three?

Although some adjustment will be necessary and time management will be critical, there will actually be no additional classroom hours per week for most students. A student who would have taken three five-hour classes under the quarter system will likely take five three-hour classes under the semester system. Workloads should be comparable. While there will be more time to complete long-term assignments under the semester system (15 weeks versus the 10 weeks of the quarter system), students must avoid procrastination which could result in four or five major projects due at the same time.

2. Will class size increase as a result of conversion to semesters?

Class sizes will likely remain the same under the semester system. However, any major change in the overall campus enrollment total could impact class sizes.

3. What is the biggest difference between semesters and quarters?

A quarter system divides the academic year unto four ten-week periods in which classes are offered. Under the new semester system, there will be two fifteen-week class periods, with the fall semester beginning in August and the spring semester beginning in January. Instead of a spring quarter which now ends in June, the spring semester will end in early May. Semester summer sessions will be shorter than the fall and spring semesters.

4. What are the advantages of a semester system?

Fifteen weeks will provide students more time to study and master their course work. Most other American college systems are also on semesters, making transfer to four-year institutions easier. With the spring semester ending in May, students seeking summer employment will enter the job market sooner. Students will also have more flexibility in the number of classes they take. Under quarters, students normally enrolled in one to three academic courses, but under the semester system, students can enroll in one to five academic courses.

5. How can Dalton College be sure that the senior institutions will accept the transfer programs that we have established for our students? Will Dalton College have to wait to see what senior institutions will accept in Areas A-F before we establish our course curriculums?

It is the intent of the Board of Regents to insure that any student who has completed the appropriate Core Curriculum will have that program accepted by any of the senior institutions in the System. In addition, the Board has stated that any student who has completed any of the Areas A-F will have those individual areas accepted by the senior institutions as well.

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