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75 Cents in—My Thoughts on the Quarter System at the End of my Freshman Year

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCLA chapter.

A month ago, as I was studying for my midterms at the same time that every single other college student from my hometown went home for the summer, I thought to myself “Dear God, why did I choose a school on the quarter system?” But now that I am officially done with my freshman year (if I managed to pass my coding class), I can provide my 75 cents on the matter. There are both pros and cons, but mostly there are lifestyle and learning adjustments that have to be made to accommodate UCLA’s (and the other UC’s) wacky schedule. 


One major pro that I have experienced is that you normally only take three to four classes a quarter. Therefore, if there is a class that you hate with every fiber of your body, or a class that you have to put in five hours a day for, you are only stuck with it for ten weeks. Also, you can pair those really tough classes with two easy GE’s because you don’t have to take five or six classes at a time. This also helps with extracurriculars because if you have a lot going on, you can easily take a quarter off as opposed to a full semester, where you would miss a lot more. 

Some personal pros for me include the fact that during spring break, you have absolutely no work. Since your classes are already over, there is absolutely nothing on your plate. And, if the enrollment gods are in your favor, you can even end up having up to two weeks off for your spring break if all your finals are in week ten. Another big pro for me is I can stay in my hometown to work for a month after all the other college kids leave. This way I don’t have to compete for shifts and can make bank without working too much in July and August (my boss also sees this as a pro and usually puts me in charge of the restaurant to travel to a different continent). 


The timing SUCKS. This past fall, when all my friends went to college for the first time and I didn’t know anyone at UCLA yet to communicate with about the situation, I cried in my hometown everyday, alone. Everyone was out making friends and starting their new chapter and I felt stuck. Now it’s the opposite end of the spectrum. I am so burnt out since it feels like it should be summer. I just want to go home and veg out for three months.

Another con is that most classes have minimal tests (at least for me as a comm major). My grades are mostly made up of one midterm and one final, which is a lot of pressure for those two tests. 


Since starting my UCLA career, if I wasn’t a week ahead in my work, I was behind. Ten weeks is such a short amount of time. As soon as you fall a day behind in work, it just piles up, up and up until you’re drowning and you’re calling your previously mentioned boss to tell him you’re starting full-time because you have to drop out. In my opinion, quarter system students basically teach themselves half of the information because there’s just literally no time in the actual lectures to learn everything. So, be prepared to do a lot of self-teaching and a lot of work. 

You’re going to learn a lot of information. I just finished French 1 and know pretty much the same information as my boyfriend who took it for four years in high school. This is both a pro and con in my opinion because you feel very productive but sometimes your head is exploding. Just be aware of that.

Enrollment sucks and it feels like it’s always happening because it’s three times a year. If you don’t get a class, don’t worry because you have 33% more chances to get it than at semester schools.

All in all, I actually love the quarter system (maybe that’s my ADHD talking). It’s extremely fast-paced but I get bored very easily, so it helps keep me occupied. I haven’t found any statistical proof that the quarter system actually helps in learning, but the main reason schools like UCLA use it are for the professors’ research purposes. So, it’s not a bad trade off for attending the number one public university in the country.

Katy is a first year communications major at UCLA originally from Pennsylvania! She enjoys baking, Taylor Swift, and lifting :)