Semester Conversion Student Pledge
Our Pledge to Students
In Fall 2018, Cal Poly Pomona will convert from a quarter-based academic calendar to a semester-based academic calendar. The continued success of our students is the highest priority during this conversion. The faculty and staff at Cal Poly Pomona commit to a two-way partnership with students to achieve a conversion that does not adversely affect the time to degree or cost of the degree.
The University’s Commitments
- There should be no loss of credits applied to students’ degree requirements earned before the semester conversion.
- The time to graduation should be the same as would have been the case had Cal Poly Pomona remained on the quarter system.
- The university will provide timely and focused advising support and assistance to prepare an Individual Academic Plan (IAP) for undergraduate students (a) who wish to graduate prior to the conversion to semesters and (b) whose programs span the quarter-to-semester transition.
- It will provide timely and focused advising support and assistance to prepare a Conversion Master’s Contract (CC) for graduate students whose programs span the quarter-to-semester transition.
- Changes in policies and procedures shall be communicated to students in a timely manner.
- Annual student tuition and fees under the semester system should not be greater than they would be under the quarter system. (CSU tuition fees, as well as campus based fees, may be adjusted as deemed necessary and authorized by the Board of Trustees and/or the campus president.).
- Conversion should not adversely affect students’ financial aid.
- Tuition and fees payment schedules as well as financial aid and scholarship disbursements will be aligned with the semester calendar in a manner consistent with the schedules that exist under the quarter calendar.
- Undergraduate students should remain until graduation in the major selected by the time they have completed 45 quarter units. Undergraduates who change their majors after completing 45 or more units may extend their time to graduation.
- Graduate students are expected to submit a master’s contract no later than the end of the second quarter of attendance.
- All students should:
- Develop an Individual Academic Plan (or a Conversion Master’s Contract if you are a graduate student) if you have the BroncoDirect To Do List item.
- Follow the IAP/CC timeline and revise as necessary to maintain the expected time to degree.
- Meet minimum grade requirements.
- Consult regularly with an advisor and follow advising instructions.
- Satisfy all other graduation requirements as specified in the catalog.
- Be flexible with choices of classes and times.
- All students should keep informed about university policies and procedures. Email is the university’s official form of communication.
The university shall make a good-faith effort to support students through the conversion process. The university is not be responsible for consequences that occur as a result of students not meeting the above commitments.
Benefits of Semesters
Humane Pace of Learning
Semesters offer a more humane pace of learning for students. Semesters allow you more time to absorb and understand difficult material, as well as a better chance to recover from illness or adversity without having to drop courses and fall behind in your degree completion.
Semesters make a richer and more reflective student learning experience possible. A 15-week semester allows more time for reflection and review of material, and a greater chance for you to engage in the material in a deeper and more meaningful way.
Semesters allow faculty to shift pedagogy mid-semester if their teaching is not working, if students are not engaged, or if student feedback indicates such a need.
Increased Depth of Learning
Students have argued that conversion to semesters would result in them taking fewer courses overall. However, the breadth of the curriculum cannot be measured simply by the number of courses students take (a curriculum in which students take 50 courses is not necessarily twice as broad as one with 25 courses, for example). The crucial consideration is the topics, ideas, theories, content, etc. that students are exposed to, and there's no reason to suppose that this exposure is narrower on a semester calendar than on a quarter system. Higher levels of learning such as integration and application are possible in a semester system, not just content delivery. Calendar conversion will require curricular re-organization, not curricular reduction. In addition, the reorganization can be minimized if the large number of existing 4-unit quarter courses are converted directly to 3-unit semester courses.
Increased Ability for Learn-By-Doing
The short time for classes under the quarter system undermines Cal Poly Pomona’s learn-by-doing philosophy. In many cases, 10 weeks is insufficient to engage in productive partnerships with communities, and real-work opportunities outside the institution. Actually planning and implementing applied, constructed and community-based projects, as well as creating working relationships with community partners, will be easier in a longer semester system.
Better Identification of Students with Special Needs
Longer contact with students in a semester system makes it easier for faculty to identify students who need learning help of many kinds. Students who require remedial learning opportunities, students with learning disabilities, and students with special needs, including veterans, are easier to identify and serve in a semester system. The fast paced quarter system creates greater biases against special needs students.
Better Mentoring for Students
Because students’ initial exposure to particular faculty members is longer on a semester calendar, there is a greater likelihood for informal mentoring or advising relationships to arise. Such relationships are likely to contribute to better student retention and engagement.
Later Add/Drop Dates
The later add/drop dates offered in a semester system allow students to better acclimate to the material and to choose courses that better suit their program or interests. Students can ‘course-shop’ for a week to better understand their interests and their ‘fit’ with faculty in a semester system.
In a semester system, student financial aid matches federal and state funding timelines more closely and aligns with other university systems. A two-semester system results in fewer schedule changes for you, thus easing your ability to work or intern outside of school and coordinate school and a job.
Community College Transfers
A semester calendar will ease the transition for students who transfer from our semester-based community and junior colleges, as well as maximizing the likelihood that all transferred units satisfy Cal Poly Pomona degree requirements.
Students in a semester system have greater ability to adapt to difficult circumstances without becoming forced ‘off-schedule’ for their degree. It has been argued that students learn more on a quarter system and make faster progress toward their degree. However, no evidence supports these claims. Students at CSU quarter campuses do not graduate faster or with greater frequency than at CSU semester campuses. (See calstate.edu for comparative data about graduation times and rates.)
Increased Summer Opportunities
On our current quarter system, students get a late start on the summer job market and are shut out of worthwhile opportunities, such as summer internships, that begin in late May or early June. A semester-based calendar will make students more competitive for these opportunities.
Semesters create improved opportunities for students to participate in study-abroad activities. Most universities worldwide follow some version of a semester system. While the CPP International Center has managed to find ways to deal with the calendar difference, it is often a problem. Students often go abroad for the fall quarter, which is more or less equivalent to the first semester in most institutions. However, if they wish to go in January, they use up two quarters for one semester abroad, and they cannot attend only for the spring quarter since institutions overseas are halfway through the second semester. Conversion to a semester system would be beneficial for expansion of study abroad opportunities beyond the fall semester Cal Poly Pomona students are currently limited to.
A semester calendar will provide you with more time for event planning and allow you to spread out their activities throughout the semester and take advantage of more cocurricular activities. Off-campus activities such as conferences, student leadership conferences, semester-at-sea, internships, mock trials and attending CPP athletic events are normally scheduled based on a semester calendar. Converting to a semester calendar will allow more Cal Poly Pomona students to participate in such activities.
If you are a student athlete, a semester system will make your academic schedule align better with the semester-driven schedule of athletic competitions and begin practicing earlier. (The NCAA does not allow athletes to begin practice until classes have actually begun.) Also, you will not have to negotiate your final examinations schedule as you do in the quarter calendar where finals week coincides with the NCAA finals.
Lower Process Losses
You will have only two, rather than three, loss periods of ‘ramp-up’ in first week, wind-down in the final week of classes, line-ups for financial aid, registrar, parking passes, etc.