DAYTON, Ohio (AP) -- Seventeen Ohio universities and community colleges now on the quarter system are ready to switch to a semester-based calendar in a move that officials say will help students transfer more easily between schools.
The schools making the switch from 10-week quarters to two-semester calendars have spent more than $26 million over the past four years to prepare for the transition, the Dayton Daily News reported (http://bit.ly/H8LoSk ).
Ohio State University, Ohio University and the University of Cincinnati are some of the largest universities affected. Some of the smaller schools include Wright State University and Sinclair and Clark State community colleges.
"It's been, I think, a really tremendous effort, and a tremendous effort during very difficult economic times in the state of Ohio," said Wright State President David Hopkins. "We came together and agreed it was time for us to do this and do it together."
But not all students support the change, with some worried that they might lose credit hours or otherwise be inconvenienced.
"They're upset that they're caught in the middle," said Wright State senior Nicholas Port, who has served on the student government's semester transition committee. "They think it's just a hassle, and they might not recognize the benefits now."
Schools have said students will not be delayed in earning degrees or have to spend more money if they develop a plan with their advisers to carry them through the transition.
About 250,000 students are finishing the final academic quarter at the schools changing to semesters, which usually last 15 weeks plus exams.
"We have promised our students that we're going to make sure this does not lengthen their time to degree, it does not cost them any more," Hopkins said.
Students will need to start their school year earlier under the semester system, which raises concerns for some officials.
"Community colleges tend to have a lot of students who sign up at the last minute," said Martha Crawmer, Clark State's dean of arts and sciences and co-chair of its semester conversion committee.
"Our biggest concern, our worry is that students are so accustomed to starting after Labor Day, but now we're starting Aug. 20," she said.
The colleges and universities have spent money on extra advising, new technology, advertising and course revisions.
"When we go into the next fall, we'll feel really good that we're helping people thrive in the 21st century," Wright said.
Sinclair expects to spend slightly less than the $1.8 million it budgeted, said Allison Rhea, project director for the office of semester transition. She said classes have been combined for semesters, and students overall will end up taking fewer courses.
Ohio State paid about $12.6 million, mostly for new technology, while preparing for the transition, spokeswoman Shelly Hoffman said.
Although three Ohio community colleges that switched to semesters since 2000 saw a decrease in enrollment the year after the conversion, that drop was attributed to students finishing their degrees before the switch.
"We don't really anticipate any major effect in enrollment," Crawmer said of Clark State.
Terra Community College in Fremont converted to semesters in 2006. Mary McCue, Terra's director of marketing and auxiliary services, said students seem to enjoy having the academic calendar more aligned with the kindergarten to 12th-grade schedule.
"I can't think of one reason why anyone would not want to do the conversion," McCue said.
Information from: Dayton Daily News, http://www.daytondailynews.com