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Quarter / Semester Conversion In Georgia Dr. Marshall W. Smith.

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1 Quarter / Semester Conversion In Georgia Dr. Marshall W. Smith

2 Why Do It? Almost all public and private higher education institutions in the USA are on semesters Almost all Georgia institutions accredited by SACS are on semesters, both public and private One less schedule to prepare annually One less registration per year with concurrent cost savings Transfer process eased for staff and students Most textbooks are prepared for a semester format

3 The Ten Commandments - almost Include and involve: faculty, staff, academic administration, IT administration, support units Create an organization that stresses participation, involvement, and a sense of belonging to the enterprise Make the transition during the lowest enrolled term, which is usually the summer Communicate, communicate, communicate Take the position that no student will be harmed in the making of your production

4 The Ten – almost – continued Create or maintain common course numbering throughout your system and strive for program commonality throughout your system Prepare guides to achieve consistency among your staffs in admissions and records, academic advising, counseling, and transfer coordination Reach out to your transfer partners, involving them, seeking their input, and listening to their concerns Ensure that the student is more important than the process, including your technological support

5 Let’s look more closely - #1 Create a steering committee with wide representation, including administrative officers, faculty, and staff Assign it responsibility for an organization model and a schedule of events Involve teaching faculty across the system in aligning curricula wherever possible Use operating unit staffs to devise specific guidelines, procedures, and appropriate “what if” scenarios to protect students from “Fahrenheit / Centigrade” conversions

6 Let’s look more closely - #2 Be very inclusive Use people who are not completely sold on the idea and listen to their concerns Don’t succumb to the temptation to use only the “veterans” of many campaigns and many years Introduce a “wild card” – if there is an English faculty committee examining composition, add a Chemist Establish clear deadlines and reporting channels for committees to report progress and ultimate decisions

7 Let’s look more closely - #3 If a summer term is selected, announce well in advance – to the students, first and foremost, and to the public at large Emphasize the positive aspects to the transition for all concerned Ensure that key community leaders, including legislators, are well briefed on your intentions Prepare a system-wide publication that describes what will happen and when it will happen; distribute it widely

8 Let’s look more closely - #4 Use all possible outlets to communicate with your principal constituents – your students Teaching faculty can be the best agents for dissemination Consider electronic distribution lists for students, Website messages and special sections, key sections in class schedules preceding the implementation Use media kits extensively and work closely with your contacts to get the message out Purchase media access, if necessary, to describe the transition and its impact

9 Let’s look more closely - #5 Regardless of the conversion formula selected and used, consider a policy that provides the student the benefit of the doubt, especially when one or fewer credit hours may be involved It may be necessary to offer courses during the transition term that are (1) semester courses, (2) quarter courses, or (3) quarter courses expressed in semester hours Prepare for this by reviewing carefully graduation requirements in all existing programs

10 Let’s look more closely - #6 If you have already achieved common course numbering, keep it If not, create it Try diligently to align program content and requirements across your system, so that intrasystem transfer is seamless and painless Accept one another’s courses with full faith and credit Agree, whenever possible, on such ancillary academic components as experiential learning, credit by examination, and the like

11 Let’s look more closely - #7 Create procedural guides that describe the basic processes you intend to follow systemwide Conduct information and training sessions for affected units Prepare specific guides for transactions you feel will be common to a significant number of students Agree on where you are willing to compromise, albeit slightly, on program requirements when students have very minor hour deficiencies and publish such procedures in your guides

12 Let’s look more closely - #8 Identify (easily done) your most common transfer accepting institutions and involve them in your planning If the intended receiving institution will identify areas in which it is willing to compromise or work with you in sound adjustments to program requirements, take it seriously and foster agreements when possible When final programmatic decisions are reached, inform your receiving institutions in writing and through existing informal networks immediately

13 Let’s look more closely - #9 Once again, remember that your student is the most important component of this activity Do not allow your procedures, your technology, your software, or anything else to take precedence over doing the right thing for the student Stress this fact to all constituents Using existing student networks – clubs, student government associations, honorary societies – to emphasize “the student is first”

14 Other considerations - Conduct realistic practice sessions involving actual students who are asked to discuss their academic records and their plans Revise and adjust as appropriate after evaluating such sessions Create a comprehensive listing of forms needed at present, during the conversion, and afterwards Where possible, have such forms common to all institutions, particularly the conversion forms

15 Horrible Events That Didn’t Happen Horrible Event: The number of “special cases” requiring compromises or recalculations will be overwhelming! Reality: At most colleges, 3-5% was the average Horrible Event: Enrollment will decline! Reality: Systemwide, enrollment went up 2% the first complete year and 4 1/2% the next year Horrible Event: The cost will be prohibitive Reality: The overall expense was slightly more than the savings from having one less registration cycle

16 Horrible Events That Didn’t Happen Horrible Event: It will be impossible to obtain adequate course materials, including textbooks! Reality: As alluded to earlier, most textbooks are prepared for a semester format – this includes technical courses and programs Horrible Event: Students will not adjust to new format! Reality: Very little complaining; after one academic year, no complaints FOOD FOR THOUGHT: There will now be fewer terms from which a student may drop out!

17 In summary - Involve widely from all populations Communicate your intentions, plans, and goals Keep the student first Accept varying points of view Rehearse your operational procedures Plan your record-keeping and forms necessary to it Agree on systemwide, commonly accepted principles of administrative operation Good luck!

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