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August 2011

Quarters to Semesters Update 

August 2011

Dear Colleagues,

For nearly two years, colleagues throughout Ohio State have been working to ensure a smooth transition to semesters in June 2012. Up to now, most of their efforts have been focused on the academic changes we must make—curricular reconfigurations, course and program revisions, academic calendar updates, and the like. Most of this work in support of the academic conversion is now complete, thanks to the tireless commitment of so many.

As we move into the coming academic year, our last on the quarter system, the conversion process will be increasingly focused on supporting these academic changes—aligning business operations with the new calendar, assuring that classroom capacity is consistent with needs under semesters, editing websites and printed materials to reflect the semester terminology and dates, and much, much more. The tasks that remain are daunting but do-able.

In the coming months, we will use the QSU newsletter to keep you abreast of such developments. This month we want to give you a sense of some of the most immediate issues that will be tackled.

The May session. A number of decisions about the May session have been made—its dates, for example, as well as its tuition-free policy and flexible study-abroad policy about what can count as a “May session.” Among the most critical of the academic issues yet to be resolved are the kind and number of courses to be offered in the May session. Inclusive discussions about the May session will be ongoing throughout next year. The first May session takes place in May, 2013.

Advising for semesters. Advisors now have access to program information and transitional advising plans. In addition, the Transitional Academic Plan, the Course Conversion Guide, and enhancements to AdvisingConnect are in place to help support advising during the transition, and some advisers have begun working with students on their conversion plans. More broadly, advisers will address curricular planning for semesters this autumn in their University Survey 100 classes for first-year students. Many will also address semester curricular planning in larger group sessions and workshops in autumn and winter. During the coming academic year, advisors will be working intensively with two general groups of students—those planning to complete a degree by spring quarter 2012, and transitional students planning schedules for summer and 2012 and beyond.

Bridge courses/programs. Messages will be developed and disseminated to help students understand how units are handling program requirements to bridge the transition from quarters to semesters, including, in some cases, bridge courses for sequences.

SIS functionality. While existing SIS will not change with the semester conversion, some new semester-specific SIS functionality has been developed—the Transitional Academic Plan, for example, and the Course Conversion Guide. In addition, new functionality to help students and staff determine eligibility for May session credit is in development. Students will see a simple message indicating whether or not they are eligible for the May session credit, while staff will have access to a page with details that determine eligibility.

Graduate education. Among other tasks, work is continuing on eligibility criteria changes for graduate fee authorizations.

MySwitch website. A joint project of Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and the Offices of Academic Affairs and Student Life, the MySwitch website is a student-focused site that consolidates links to semester conversion information from throughout the university. It has been created—and is now being finalized—with considerable input from students. MySwitch is a one-stop shop for links to all semester-related information, including advising tools, the Course Conversion Guide, scheduling tips, calendars, financial and housing information, and considerations for the short summer of 2012. It is designed to be attractive to students, easy to use, and easy to maintain. Set to launch in September, the site will be heavily promoted by USG and Student Life.

Informing the Ohio State Community. University Communications is leading an effort to engage area businesses and off-campus partners who could be affected by the conversion to semesters. These groups include neighborhood associations, local landlords, area religious groups, Battelle, Chemical Abstracts, and local school districts. A calendar with important dates, such as move-in, home football games, and semester breaks is being developed and will be provided to help these organizations with their planning efforts. The City of Columbus also will be briefed so that its departments of safety, fire protection, street cleaning, and trash removal can be prepared for the change.

The September issue of QSU will continue to focus on how Ohio State is readying itself to support the transition to semesters.


 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,