As a first-year at UC San Diego, one challenge I found to be the most daunting as an incoming student was the pace of the quarter system. While most universities function on a 16-week semester schedule, the UC system follows a quarter schedule with three 10 week quarters and an optional fourth summer quarter.
Long before I had graduated high school, I heard about the struggles my older sister endured as a student in the quarter system, and by the time my turn had come, I had already been heavily warned on how fast-paced the system is and advised to try my best not to fall behind.
With my first quarter being this past fall, I learned that no matter how much you hear about how hard it is, you never really understand it until you are thrown into it. After nearly a year of zoom classes during my senior year of high school, transitioning back to in-person classes and facing the rigorous pace of the UC quarter system was hard. While I have always been someone who is quick to adapt, this change proved to be a difficult task. One of the most baffling things was how midterms never really ended and many classes had 2-3 of them. It felt as though there was never a break, and once you miss a lecture, it becomes much more difficult to catch up on top of the new material that is always piling up.
While it may feel like you are constantly drowning in work, there are some upsides to the quarter system. There is always light at the end of the tunnel; in this case, the light is that your hardest class will only last 10 weeks, and the weeks can sometimes fly by. The system also gives you the opportunity to take so many different classes while only taking 3-4 at a time. It fully makes sure that you never grow tired of your classes, because as soon as you even have time to think about them, it’s time for finals and they’re coming to an end. The long summers are one of the biggest perks, considering that our winter and spring breaks are much shorter than those of semester schools.
The quarter system can sometimes leave you incredibly stressed and unmotivated, but it’s important to recognize that you are not alone, and there are thousands of students who are going through the same thing. It can be worth it to unplug and take breaks occasionally so you can get back to your work motivated and optimistic.