Quarter This

The typical Binghamton student takes four classes at a time — leaving students with four midterms to take, four finals to cram for and four sets of term papers to turn in, creating stressful crunch periods in the semester with periods of relative quiet in between.

Miriam Geiger/Editorial Artist

But a new proposal may change all of that. Imagine that instead of having to divide their time between four classes on divergent subjects, students only had to focus on two.

The idea is that semesters would be divided in half. Instead of classes running for 14 weeks, they would be cut to seven. But each class would meet for twice as many hours each week — allowing students to focus intensely on just those two classes. There would be fewer classes competing for students’ attention simultaneously, which might be nice.

Additionally, it would make it easier to offer two-part classes. Instead of having to divide up larger subjects over two semesters, the first part of a class could be offered during the first half of a semester and the second part could follow in the next half of the semester.

There are several potential downsides, though. Some classes just work better over the course of 14 weeks. Many gym classes require recovery days between sessions — although one member of our editorial board said he liked having his yoga class every day during the summer session. And art classes may require prolonged concept evolution.

The sciences also pose a challenge within this system. These programs often require a specific chain of classes — several of which must be taken concurrently.

The difficulty and density of these classes also creates obstacles. Imagine three-hour-long physics lectures and six-hour-long labs — multiple times per week. There would be little time to review the material and allow it to sink in.

But the proposal does seem intriguing. There’s no telling the true effectiveness of the program until it’s tried out empirically, but from afar, it certainly looks like it holds promise.