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May 2011

Quarters to Semesters Update 

May 2011

“The most important part of the semester conversion is communication to ensure that every student knows how to graduate on time. During the campaign, Emily and I heard from so many students that the semester switch is a huge concern, and we really want to help make sure all students can feel confident that they will graduate when they want to and have the necessary resources and peace of mind along the way.

Statement from USG President Nick Messenger
and Vice President Emily DeDonato

Dear Colleagues,

The semester conversion was very much on students’ minds during the recent Undergraduate Student Government (USG) leadership campaign. In their statement above, new USG President Nick Messenger and Vice President Emily DeDonato acknowledge students’ concern and express the same desire that we have in bringing you this QSU newsletter: we want to provide the information that will help all of us transition seamlessly to the semester calendar in summer, 2012.

Nick and Emily have told us how eager they are for ongoing student feedback, so students with questions or comments should feel free to email Nick at

Communicating to students about the semester switch. The Office of Student Life, in partnership with the Office of Academic Affairs, is studying how best to provide students with the information Nick and Emily mention above. Five focus groups conducted by the Office of Student Life in March gathered data about students’ knowledge of the semester conversion process. The findings include the following:

  • Students know that Ohio State is converting to a semester calendar in 2012.
  • For the most part they understand and appreciate the advantages of the transition.
  • They are beginning to become anxious for more details about academic course loads, class scheduling, fee payment deadlines, and effects on their employment.

The focus groups also queried students’ preferred methods of communication. Short, targeted emails with very clear subject lines were cited as the most preferred tool, supported by a website and general messages in such media as Buckeye Net News, The Lantern, fliers, and various creative methods such as YouTube videos and mementos (e.g., a calendar ruler) to reinforce the website.

The information gathered has been widely shared with those working on aspects of communicating semester conversion information to students.

New tuition and fee payment policy. Also of paramount importance to students is the new policy for the payment of tuition and fees. Effective this autumn quarter, 2011, students must pay their tuition, fees, and any prior balances seven calendar days before the first day of classes.

When Ohio State moves to the semester calendar in summer, 2012, the first day of classes for that term falls on Monday, June 18, 2012. This means that tuition and fee payments will be due on Monday, June 11, 2012.

For more information about the new policy, including other dates and frequently asked questions, please go to Questions should be referred to the Student Consolidated Services Center at or 292-0300.

Data conversion for the GPA. Another issue of specific interest to students is the conversion of their cumulative academic data (cumulative grade points, graded hours, and earned hours) to semester values. Though it was always understood that the data would need to be converted by multiplying the quarter numbers by 2/3, it has now been decided that .67 will be the official operational definition of “2/3.” When that factor was used to convert data on more than 700,000 student records and the results were then used to recalculate the students’ GPAs, the GPA based on semesters data was always equal to the GPA under quarters.

Once the data have been converted, they will be summarized, for students who continue to enroll under semesters, in a placeholder “term” on transcripts and advising reports after the student’s last quarter of enrollment. Separate lines will list the student’s summary data for quarters, along with the corresponding values for semesters.

More questions and answers. Last month’s questions and answers about the semester conversion filled Assistant Provost Jay Johnson’s in-box with queries about still other semester-based issues. Here are some of the latest.  

Q: As a parent whose child may go to school at Ohio State, after reading the question in last month’s QSU regarding large lecture hall space, I am wondering if class sizes are going to increase.

A: No, class sizes are not going to increase as a result of moving to semesters. The question you are referring to was whether there would be an adequate supply of large lecture space. Since courses will be offered two times per year rather than three times, there will be more competition for those spaces. We wanted to address that concern and affirm that there would be no shortage of that kind of space.

Q: Students whose enrollment spans the quarter to semester transition will, upon graduation, have taken courses under both the quarter and the semester system. How will course credits be reported on transcripts?

A: Quarter courses will be multiplied by .67 on the transcript for the semester equivalent credit hours. For more on this, see the article above.

Please continue to send your questions and comments about the semester shift to Assistant Provost Jay Johnson at

University Center for the Advancement of Teaching events

May 11
Workshop on Teaching to the Rhythm of Semesters

May 18
Rountable Series on May Session: Course Design

Course proposals review. The review of semester-based course proposals is proceeding apace. To date, more than 2,000 proposals have been reviewed, and hundreds more are being processes each week. We would especially like to acknowledge the truly tireless efforts of Associate Provost Alexis Collier, Faculty Fellow Ann Christy, and Program Manager Melissa Soave. Their seriousness of purpose will ensure that our academic programs are of the highest quality in their semester format.

The work of these colleagues is simply one more instance of enormous amount of work that is going on throughout the university as we prepare for the shift to semesters. Thank you for all that you are doing to keep us on track for this major change in the way Ohio State operates.


 W. Randy Smith
Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Co-Chair,
Semester Conversion Coordinating Committee

 Steven S. Fink
Associate Professor of English and Co-Chair,
Semester Conversion Coordinating Committee

Questions or comments about the transition to the semester calendar?
Contact Assistant Provost Jay Johnson,