Manic Fringe


The personal blog of the one and only Luc Gendrot. Internet Superhero. Not really.

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I hate the quarter system. Here's why.

I feel frustrated a lot of the time when I’m studying. I feel frustrated because I feel like there’s this ever-present, looming pair of eyes behind me scrutinizing how efficiently I work with my time. I think this self-consciousness stems from the fact that I procrastinate a lot...but beyond than that I think it also stems from how quickly I am expected to gain mastery at the things that I am learning in class. It’s not impossible mind you, it’s just overly stressful and (I think) non-conducive to me learning effectively.

At the university I am attending we go through classes in a 10 week period. These classes are fully-fledged and are completely analogous to the classes I would attend were I in a semester system, they’re just condensed into 10 weeks instead of 16. Think about that for a moment if you would. That means students learning on the semester system have 6 extra weeks to study presumably the same amount of material (or procrastinate on the same material, as it were).

Even some of my most interesting classes haven’t left the sort of impression on me the classes I took at my community college (which runs on the semester system) have. Take for example the sociology class I took as a high school senior over 3 years ago. I still remember most of the things we learned in that class, like that many of the students in my class supported the death penalty and the 3-strikes rule, despite all the statistics we learned about wrongful conviction in the US. I remember being shocked that some of the students thought buying highly pollutive things like Hummer Limousines (the example we used in class) was a god-given right for rich people. They had no qualms with polluting the environment because in their minds, they earned the money and that gave them the right to do anything with it that they wanted. You should have seen the look on the teacher’s face during that discussion...incredulity couldn’t begin to describe it.

I loved that class. Not only did we spend 2 or 3 weeks on the topic of income inequality but the discussions we had were better than any I’ve had at the 4 year university now attend.

2 or 3 weeks on one topic? The thought seems almost ludicrous to me now, considering that in my cell growth and oncogenesis class we spent one day on the topic of senescence and apoptosis, a very complex and intricate topic.

On the flip side, if you asked me anything about what I learned in the microbiology class that I took just 2 quarters ago at my university I would be hard pressed to give you any specifics about...well...anything we learned except maybe the teacher’s name. Maybe. Think about what that means for the classes I took and the things I “learned” at the beginning of my college career? The thought does not inspire confidence.

“But Microbiology is your major!” You might cry with all the incredulity of my old sociology teacher “Shouldn’t you love to learn the subject?!”

Why yes! I do love microbiology, and everything that comes with it. Bacteriology, virology, cell biology, all of it. I love it all. But I’m also taking all of those classes at once, and each has its own textbook from which the teachers pull nearly all of the information for their classes. Trust me I would LOVE to read my textbooks from cover to cover, I would love to take notes on every page and jot stuff down in the margins to look up later. I simply don’t have the time. Not if I want to be doing the other things that are important to me and that I should be doing in college: Socializing with my peers and future colleagues, searching for a lab position so that I can get started on my career, writing this blog, or reading the Wheel of Time series (Yeah, I haven’t finished yet, don’t judge me).

If I had 6 extra weeks to learn the things expected of me...well...I think I would be in a lot better shape both knowledge wise. And grades wise. Go figure.

I do not care for the quarter system, not one bit.

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