June 2011

Quarters to Semesters Update 

June 2011

Dear Colleagues,

In last month’s QSU we reported how efforts to keep students informed about the semester conversion are expanding. Let us being this issue with an update on those efforts and other information of particular interest to students.

Semester communications to students: MySwitch. The Offices of Student Life, Academic Affairs, and the Chief Information Officer continue to collaborate with Undergraduate Student Government (USG) to facilitate the creation of the MySwitch website, a portal through which students can access information about semester conversion. MySwitch was an idea launched by new USG President Nick Messenger and Vice President Emily DeDonato after hearing many students express the desire for one, easy-to-navigate site where they can find all information related to “the switch.”

In May, USG Senate voted to allocate $15,000 to support the creation of the site, which will feature those categories that student committee members feel will be most important this fall when MySwitch launches. These categories include graduating on time/advising, semester calendar, access to internships in summer 2012, housing, financial information, and general semester “vocabulary.” The MySwitch site will be an aggregate of existing semester conversion information and will not offer new or uniquely created content. MySwitch will include a search feature as well as a “contact us” form that will automatically forward messages to identified contacts in all colleges and major campus departments.

MySwitch will complement the semester conversion website, which remains the university’s clearing house for semester information.

Tuition and fee payment: quarters v. semesters. The cost of tuition and fees will not be affected by the shift to semesters (see the Pledge to Students). On the semester calendar, however, students will have two tuition/fee payments per year instead of three. The tables below illustrate the undergraduate tuition and fee payment schedule on quarters and semesters. Please note that both tables use current academic year costs for purposes of this comparison.

PER QUARTER: COLUMBUS CAMPUS, BASED ON AY2010-11 BILLED EXPENSES

Billed expenses*

Ohio resident

Nonresident

Tuition and fees

$3,140

$7,868

Typical room and board

$3,388

$3,388

* Fees are generally due 7 days prior to the beginning of classes each quarter: mid-September for autumn, late December for winter, and late March for spring.

PER SEMESTER: COLUMBUS CAMPUS, BASED ON AY2010-11 BILLED EXPENSES

Billed expenses*

Ohio resident

Nonresident

Tuition and fees

$4,710

$11,802

Typical room and board

$5,082

$5,082

* Fees will generally be due 7 days prior to the beginning of classes each semester: mid-August for autumn and late December for spring.

It is important for students to realize that they will make fewer payments on the semester system, but those payments will be in larger increments each time. Students will also want to bear in mind that, like tuition and fees, financial aid on the semester system will be split into two payments instead of three. And like tuition, the semester conversion will not affect the amount of a student’s financial aid.

Faculty, staff, dependent tuition assistance under semesters. To assist in the pursuit of higher education, Ohio State provides tuition assistance for eligible faculty, staff, and dependents. Here is a look at that benefit on the semester system.

  • Eligible faculty and staff members may receive tuition assistance for up to ten credit hours of coursework per semester. This credit hour limit on the tuition assistance benefit helps ensure that the amount of time spent in the classroom and time to degree are the same or similar to what they were under the quarter system.
  • On the semester system, an eligible dependent of one employee will receive a tuition assistance benefit of 50% of general and instructional fees to a maximum of $4,500 per semester. An eligible dependent of two employees will receive a benefit of 75% of instructional and general fees to a maximum of $6,750 per semester. These dollar amount maximums are subject to change.
  • Eligible dependents may receive tuition assistance for the greater of either eight terms or 140 credit hours of enrollment. These limits reflect a 2/3 conversion of the existing limits under the quarter system. Dependents currently enrolled under the quarter system will have their total credit hours and terms automatically converted to the semester rates at the time of transition.
    • Example. Under the quarter system, Dependent Tuition Assistance benefits are available to each eligible dependent for the greater of either 12 total quarters or 200 credit hours of enrollment. If a dependent is already utilizing the tuition benefit under the quarter system and has 120 quarter credit hours over eight quarter terms at the time of the transition to semesters in 2012, the system will “convert” those hours and terms to semesters. Following the conversion, the student will have the greater of 60 remaining semester term hours or three remaining semester terms to utilize the benefit.

Online semester conversion guide coming soon. An online course conversion guide now being finalized will allow students, advisors, faculty, and visitors to the Ohio State website to search current quarter and future semester course offerings and discover their associations. Users will be able to search the conversion guide by subject, course number, title, and other attributes (for example, General Education, Honors) to find information about equivalent, transitional and new courses, and converted sequences. Available mid-June 2011, the guide will continue to develop over the summer months as semester course offerings are approved and finalized.

Semester conversion beyond Ohio State. Ohio State is not alone in moving to semesters. By autumn, 2012, all of Ohio’s public institutions of higher education -- universities, two- and 4-year colleges, and technical schools -- will be on a semester calendar. Last year, we reported on semester conversion activities at Columbus State Community College. In this issue, we would like to update you on Columbus State’s progress and spotlight what the University of Cincinnati is doing to ready itself for the new academic calendar.

  • At Columbus State (CSCC) much of the semester conversion work this year focused on curriculum. Faculty have completed the initial review of planned courses and programs and are currently working on conversion of instructional materials, with an initial focus on courses used in the Transfer Assurance Guides, Ohio Transfer Module, and Career Technical Credit Transfer programs. CSCC has also worked to ensure that its information technology systems will have a smooth transition from the quarter to semester calendar. The college has created an inventory of affected information technology systems and a list of needed modifications, and information technology staff are currently programming the necessary changes. Staff and faculty members have also developed and utilized comprehensive test scripts for those systems. CSCC is currently offering a series of workshops to help prepare faculty and staff who will be involved in advising students or who work in student service areas. Student advising on the semester conversion begins later this summer.
  • The University of Cincinnati (UC) is moving forward with semester conversion according to the time line established two years ago. All semester courses and degree programs must be entered and approved in e-Curriculum (UC’s web-based architecture for course and program approval) by the end of May. That data will be migrated to the student information system at the end of June so that encoding and degree audits can be completed. An advising guide for students has been prepared. Pilot testing of Starfish, the UC students’ online scheduling tool, has been successful; more than 15,000 students have used their profiles since August 2010 and 2,700 advising appointments have been scheduled. UC is on track to begin the preparation of Individual Advising Plans (IAPs) for students at the beginning fall term. More information about UC’s semester conversion work can be found at http://www.uc.edu/conversion.

As these reports from sister institutions suggest, the shift to semesters is a massive undertaking. At Ohio State, as elsewhere, virtually every office is affected by the change in academic calendar. In leading this initiative for our institution, we are reminded daily of the time, intelligence, and great collegiality that so many of you are committing to this effort.

Cordially,

 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, johnson.1043@osu.edu