The many differences between semesters and trimesters cannot be seen as insignificant, because they affect the entire timeframe of each year. I am somewhat split in my opinion on the disparity between the two.
I have recognized the benefits and disadvantages for each, but of course, I sided with Lawrence and its uncommon trimester system as the best structure for education.
I cannot tell you exactly how many times I have spoken the phrase, “It’s because Lawrence is on the trimester system,” in response to an incredulous question or a surprised look.
Yes, I start school in September, and yes, I finish in June. It’s true that my Christmas break stretches from Thanksgiving until New Years, and no, I’m not joking when I say I take three classes per term. I’m glad I could clear that up once and for all. Wait, who am I kidding? I’ll probably have to explain this for another 10 trimesters of my life.
Perhaps the worst aspect of having trimesters is the differing school calendars of friends who attend semester schools. It was somewhat difficult to return to Lawrence on New Year’s Day, knowing that many of my friends back home still had three weeks of recreation and relaxation.
However, I cannot complain about the lengthy break we Lawrentians are given, and I must say it will be nice having that period each year.
Another advantage to the trimester system is the amount of classes we take per term. As a freshman, I have had just three classes to handle thus far. Manageability does not seem to be a problem.
Being able to focus all of my attention on these three classes, while hearing the groans of my friends who are juggling four or five at a time at other schools is admittedly quite satisfying. In this way, all of my efforts are devoted to three areas of study; there is more time dedicated to each course and less room for negligence.
In addition to the manageable amount of classes per term, the abbreviated duration of each trimester seems far less daunting than those tiresome semesters. I am much more optimistic knowing that 10 weeks is positively attainable; the end is always at least in sight.
I must confess that there are a few downsides to Lawrence’s system. The thought of having three separate sets of midterms and finals each year is not altogether appealing.
However, the added bonus of having three breaks for each midterm reading period seems to balance out this negative aspect of the system.
I am also concerned about Lawrence students’ summer working opportunities, due to the fact that we finish our third term in early June, while most semester schools are let out in May. For those who don’t already have a job, this could be a problem when it comes time to apply.
My solution would be to use our upcoming spring break as a chance to fill out applications and discuss scheduling with possible employers about when you will be available to work. It is important to begin early, which is why spring break is the best opportunity we have to make arrangements.
All in all, I would certainly not trade what we have here at Lawrence for the semesters at other schools. Although it may be disappointing that many of my friends will begin their summer in May, I would rather not be in their position.