A Beginner's Guide to the Quarter System
Here are my answers to some of the questions I am often asked about our unique academic calendar!
- No. 1
How are quarters different than trimesters?
In most cases, both the quarter and the trimester system divide the year into four terms that follow the flow of the seasons. However, in schools that have trimesters, students are only on campus for three out of the four terms, so there’s usually still a long break in the summer and classes are offered during the stereotypical academic year. At Dartmouth, students can be on campus and taking classes for all four terms! Of course, no one is taking classes year-round for four years straight, but this does mean there’s much more flexibility in scheduling study abroad programs and internships. For a better idea of how D-Plans can be scheduled, check out some of the upperclassmen bloggers’ profiles!
- No. 2
How does having shorter terms impact your learning?
For those that don’t know, Dartmouth terms are ten weeks long, but we still learn a semester’s worth of information in one quarter. To make the short time frame manageable, most people take three classes in a term. Of course, everyone has a different learning style, so the quarter system works differently for different people. Personally, I really like only taking three classes at a time because it makes my brain feel less cluttered. I know that sounds funny, but in high school, I always felt like I had to jump from subject to subject when I was working. Whenever I found a topic I really enjoyed, I was also constantly thinking about other work I had to do. Here, I can spend a whole afternoon writing a poem or googling a genetics discovery without having to worry about falling behind in all of my other classes.
- No. 3
Do you like the quarter system?
Short Answer: Yes!
Long Answer: Heck yes!
In all seriousness, like I said before, everyone’s brains work differently, so everyone will have a different answer to this question. There are downsides to the flexibility of the D-Plan, like not seeing good friends for a term or two, but in my experience so far, the good outweighs the bad. I enjoy the fact that classes and extracurriculars are mixed up every ten weeks because it pushes me to meet new people. I’ve also found that the close communities on campus, such as sports teams or religious groups, provide a consistent space to fall back on.
A Day in My Life as a Freshman
Between figuring out what clubs I wanted to join, trying out for sports teams, and finding new study spots, each day looked a little different for me this fall.
- No. 1
7:30 am: Rise and Shine!
When my alarm goes off at 7:30 each morning, my day begins with me rolling out of bed, hitting play on my favorite morning news podcast, and getting ready for the day ahead. I always like to open my blinds first thing in the morning, so I can have a view of the changing leaves.
- No. 2
8 am : Coffee, Always Coffee
After packing my bookbag for the day, I head to Novack Café, which is a coffee shop in Baker-Berry library. It serves Starbucks, pastries, and lots of other yummy snacks. My favorite breakfast order is an iced coffee, yogurt covered pretzels, and an apple!
- No. 3
10 am: General Chemistry
When choosing classes for my first term here at Dartmouth, I was a little nervous to start out with a big, STEM lab class, but I’ve really enjoyed Gen Chem so far! As well as having a great professor, my class also has a Teaching Science Fellow (TSF), who just graduated from Dartmouth as a chemistry major. The TSF holds office hours almost every day, and I’ve found it super helpful to be able to work with someone who has firsthand experience as a Dartmouth student.
My Freshman Fall Classes: Studying Science, Poetry, and the In-Between
My post-college plans also played a role in my course election process, because I'm interested in going to medical school, but I want to major in something humanities related.