Opinion Asks

by The Dartmouth Opinion Staff | 11/4/14 8:21pm

We asked our opinion staff members: If you could change Dartmouth's calendar, would you, and how? Here are some of their responses.

I would not change the D-Plan to a semester system because it easily enables students to study abroad and creates unique internship and off-term options that students might not be able to take advantage of otherwise. I came to Dartmouth hoping to learn a language, and I was able to study abroad in France. It was an amazing experience, and I left knowing much more about the French language, culture and people. Studying in France for a whole semester, however, would have been more difficult considering my academic goals.

I would, however, think about bringing back the Thanksgiving break. I understand and appreciate why the college has made the break end before Thanksgiving. Flying back home for many students, such as myself, and then returning would be difficult. For some, it is not even an option. But I do miss the tree lighting ceremony and the Christmas lights down Main Street. The ’15s will be the last class to experience the fun of the tree lighting, the student groups singing Christmas carols and the free cookies and hot chocolate from Lou’s on the Green. Looking back to freshman year, this was a special time at the College and a great bonding experience for students. I’ll understand if the long winter break is here to stay, but I am sure there are a few students who have some nostalgia for the abbreviated winter break.

— David Brooks ’15

Having attended a school on the semester system in my first year of college, I can confidently compare the different experiences between semester and quarter systems. I strongly favor the quarter system. Our newly-long winter break allows for a significant rest from what would otherwise be a relatively unbroken school year, and being able to change courses three or four times in a year (rather than only twice) allows one to explore more classes. I would not change the current Dartmouth calendar, to a semester system or otherwise.

— Jon Miller ’15

I think we should keep the quarter system, but expand each term by a week so we have a five-day reading period after classes. Our current reading periods do not provide adequate time to study before exams. I think this extension would not only offer students more time to absorb cumulative information, but also provide professors with a chance to offer more office hours during reading period — a crucial component to the undergraduate experience. With the dedication to academics Dartmouth students currently put forth in our fast-paced terms, imagine the benefit of five to seven more days of studying and interacting with professors.

— William Peters ’15

Frankly, I don’t think Dartmouth needs significant changes to its schedule. The D-Plan allows for more study abroad programs, more flexibility in off-terms and more opportunities for internships, work or service projects. In addition, only taking three classes (usually) means students can focus more on what they’re doing, rather than spreading courses out over a semester. The D-Plan was one of the major factors in my decision to apply to and ultimately attend Dartmouth.

Does the quarter system have its flaws? Certainly. Friendships have to suffer mismatched D-Plans, true — but let’s not forget that after graduation we’ll be spread out all over the country and the world. If a friendship can’t survive a couple months apart, it won’t survive long after Dartmouth. The six-week winterim can be inconvenient, but unless you want to have a week-long Thanksgiving break disrupt the fall term — or start winter term and then break for New Year’s before coming back — there’s not really a better option. Students have to deal with midterms at different times, but the reality of normal life is that you will always have the next big thing on your plate and you don’t get to just slack off for a few weeks because “it’s not midterms yet.” Finally, we should not forget why we developed the quarter system in the first place: we would likely not have room to accommodate roughly 4,500 undergraduates on a semester system.

Abolishing the quarter system is an intriguing idea, but unfortunately it makes no sense for Dartmouth or its students.

— Zach Traynor ’16