Most college graduates attended universities with traditional two-semester academic years with a fall semester and a spring semester. Attending courses offered during the summer break were optional. Today, several universities are opting for the nontraditional three-semester, or trimester academic year because of advantages offered by using fall, winter and spring trimesters.
Schools using trimester academic years usually start later in the year in mid-September and end later in mid-June. The two main school breaks are winter break occurring prior to the winter trimester and spring break which takes place before the spring trimester. Students who graduate early will have more options as they can graduate either after the fall trimester or the winter trimester. Typically a trimester is 10-12 weeks long and a semester is 14-16 weeks long.
Students opting for schools with trimesters will be happy to know that universities with trimesters do not cost more than universities with semesters. Each trimester will cost less than a semester but the total tuition for the school year will end up being equivalent. Trimester academic years give students the option to graduate in 3 years.
Students on the trimester system take few classes than those on the semester system. Typically, a student takes three or four courses in a trimester while students take the required four or five courses during a semester. This averages to 12 courses for a trimester academic year versus the average 10 courses per semester academic year. Even though trimester classes teach the same material for 10 weeks instead of 15 weeks, the student is taking fewer classes so still had the extra time required for studying for trimester classes.
The trimester academic year makes it easier for students to find jobs. Every May financially strapped students scramble to find summer jobs. A trimester system would distribute student labor equally around the academic year. This benefits students as they face only one third of the competition in the job market.
The trimester academic year allows greater flexibility in scheduling classes. Students are more likely to distribute their courses evenly throughout the academic year. This allows for a reduced course load in any trimester. This allows students to continue with their part-time jobs.
Another advantage of the trimester academic year is that it allows for greater efficient use of academic resources. Currently, most academic resources are present only during fall and spring semesters as summer classes are considered remedial, as is reflected by the listing of summer courses. Universities are responsible for making resources available for the eight month academic year. During this recession, universities are finding it difficult to meet the needs of the students in two semester academic years. Class sizes are increased and quality and resources are limited. With a trimester academic year, teachers work with few students a day allowing for time to work more with individual students.
By stretching the teaching burden and resources over three semesters there would automatically be a reduction, by one third, in the number of courses that need to be taught in any trimester. College resources would be available for three semesters instead of the traditional two semester academic year.
With the larger availability of courses in trimesters , this allows students to take more diverse courses Students wouldn’t be restricted to taking only classes needed to fulfill requirements. The trimester academic year would benefit faculty by having facilities open during the summer.
Ultimately, the trimester academic year would allow professors and students the time and opportunity to engage in more training and learning in their chosen fields.