Pros & Cons of the Quarter System

The quarter system. Was it a welcome change or a dreaded one? Do we enjoy the new routines, or do we simply tolerate them? Let’s see what the students think.

According to a survey, 58% of students prefer the quarter system because they generally like having less classes and more time to work. What people like the most about the quarter system is the half-days and the fact that we only have to take two courses every quarter. As for the 42% of students who prefer the semester system, the most common complaints of the current schedule includes the dislike of the current class length (classes are too long), problems with the rushed schedule, and arguments for a more balanced course load. What people like the least about the quarter system is the seemingly larger amount of tests and homework. That is because most of the classes and teachers are trying to cram all the necessary course work into a two-month-long period. Out of six stars, the majority of students rated the quarter system 4/6.

As we know, the quarter system consists of four separate two-month quarters, with two courses in each one. This hybrid model means that we only have to be at school for two full days (A-L last names on Mondays and Thursdays, M-Z last names on Tuesdays and Fridays). For the rest of the week, we just have to attend half a day of school. For the first month of the term, we go to our morning classes everyday, but we only go to our afternoon classes twice a week. Then, halfway through the term, the classes “flip” and we attend our afternoon classes everyday and go to our morning classes twice a week. The first class-flip understandably caused some confusion amongst students and teachers as everyone attempted to get used to their first change in the new quarter schedule.

Understandably, discomfort of this year’s major schedule changes is only amplified during these stressful times. However, several students also expressed gratitude for the new protocols the school has developed during COVID-19, and they are happier with the smaller class sizes.

Lastly, here is a summarized list of the pros and cons of the quarter system according to the survey participants:


- Half-days

- Longer lunch/flex

- Smaller classes

- More time to work

- Safer

- Reduces potential COVID transmissions

- Less courses

- Lighter workload if you have easier courses


- Classes are too long

- Schedule feels rushed

- Semester system is more familiar

- Work balance does not even out

- More tests and homework

- Class flips are confusing

- Online platforms are harder to navigate

- You see your classes less

- Heavier workload if you have harder courses

In the end, we can see pros and cons to both the quarter system and the semester system. It is true that we cannot do much to change our schedules right now, because the quarter system is the best arrangement in terms of preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, the debate between which is the most preferable system —the quarter system or the semester system— continues to grow.

Written by Caitlin Astrom DeWitt

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