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August 30, 1963 - Image 27

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1963-08-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Squeezing 'Em Out the Assembly Line

By G. K. HODENFIELD
and MURRAY CHASS
AP Newsfeature Writers
NEW YORK-The leisurely aca-
demic life at college is going the
way of the raccoon coat, the
Charleston, and bathtub gin.
It is harder to get into college,
and harder to stay there, than it
was just a generation ago. There is
a more to learn, more who want to
learn it, and no place for the lag-
gard.
In. an effort to cope with the
swelling hordes of high school
graduates seeking a higher educa-
tion, many colleges and universi-
ties are turning to various forms
of a year-around program.
Trimonster

fit.

One which seems to be catching
on generally is the trimester, some-
times referred to as the "trimon-
ster."
By any name it is a speed-up,
and when it comes in something
intangible-the art of learning
leisurely-goes out of college.
Instead of the traditional two
semesters of 16-18 weeks, with a
long summer vacation, the trimes-
ter plan has three terms of 14-15
weeks, with a one-month break in
late summer.
A student attending eight coa-
secutive trimesters can graduate in
2 years and 8 months, instead of
the usual 3 years and 9 months.
Many students, particularly those
working their way through school,
attend only two trimesters a year
ani graduate in the traditional
time.

day when young people were need-
ed at home on the farm in sum-
mer, and that day has long since
passed.
Efficiency Value
The keynote of the trimester is
efficiency. And there, perhaps, is
its greatest drawback.
There is limited space on the
educational assembly line for
mind-sharpening bull sessions, for
browsing in the library and read-
ing for pleasure, for meditation,
and absorbing that which is being
learned, for attending plays and
concerts, and for just plain river-
bank cogitation on the state of
the world and its complex prob-
lems.
The University of Pittsburgh
pioneered the9trimester plan in
September 1959, and it is now an
accepted way of academic life
there. All four of Florida's state
universities went on the program
last fall, as did Jacksonville (Fla.)
University, a private institution.
Other Colleges
Other colleges on the trimester
include such diverse institutions
as California (Pa) State College,
Chicago Teachers College, Fort
Lewis A&M (Colo), Parson (Iowa),
and Harpur (NY).
The University begins a modified
trimester schedule this Septem-
ber. Zhe University of California,
the ,world's largest institution of
higher education, and Ohio State
University .are giving the three-
term plan serious thought.
If it is true that national adop-
tion of the trimester plan is as in-
evitable as death and taxes, it also
is true that in some quarters it is
just about as popular.
When the Florida legislature
forced the four state universities
there to adopt the trimester last
fall, there were howls of outrage.
Howls to Moans
Now, after a hectic, one-year
trial, the howls have diminished to
moans.
If the trimester survives in
Florida, other state legislatures
may demand something similar for
their public institutions.
The Florida pattern: Work that
had been covered in 16 weeks was
compressed into 14. End-of-term
examination periods were cut from
two weeks to one. To make the
actual time-in-class the same un-
der the trimester as it was under

the semester, each class period was
lengthened by seven minutes.
Including examination periods,
the trimesters ran from Sept. 10
to Dec. 22, Jan. 7 to April 12, and
April 29 to Aug. 9. Christmas va-
cation, Easter vacation, and regis-
tration took up the time between
trimesters.
To accommodate the thousands
of teachers who return to the cam-
pus for summer school year year,
the third trimester was divided in-
to two equal parts. Regular stu-
dents had the option of attending
either, neither, or both halves.
Teachers, still in their classrooms
when the third trimester started,
were in effect restricted to the
second half, starting in mid-June.
The Florida universities had a
14-month period in which to pre-
pare for the trimester. But when
it came, few of the faculty and
even fewer of the students were
ready.
The transition was rough.
Freshmen. found college work
harder than they had ever imag-
ined, and some foundered.
Upperclassmen found the speed-
up forced them to reduce their
academic loads. Working students
had to ease their work schedules,
and thus cut back their incomes.
. Drop Countries
Classroom lectures and text-
book assignments designed for a
16-week semester had to be dras-
tically revised for the 14-week tri-
mester. One history professor
solved his problem by dropping
Formosa and Korea out of his
course in oriental history. An Eng-
lish professor said, "I'm just talk-
ing longer about fewer things."
These were the problems of tran-
sition, and all but a few die-hard

opponents of the trimester ac-
knowledged they would eventually
be solved.
But cutting the academic term
from 16 to 14 weeks has raised
other problems for which there
are no apparent solutions.
No Time
Professors of biology, chemistry,
medicine, and related fields say
their students are denied time for
important laboratory work. Music
professors say their students have
insufficient time to practice.
The time that faculty members
can devote to independent study,
travel and research, is sharply cur-
tailed. This not only hampers the
present faculty members, it makes
it difficult for the universities to
recruit top-notch teaching talent.
However, Litchfield says of the
trimester: "The great advantage is
that it keeps young, active minds
working on academic subjects the
larger part of the year instead of
letting them do idle things. That
use of human resources is im-
portant."
But critical professors in Flori-
da say the trimester has meant
sacrifices in the things which spell
the differences between knowledge
and wisdom, between book learn-
ing and true education.
Attendance at artists' perform-
ances, foreign film showings, con-
certs and other cultural events has
dropped sharply. The libraries re-
port a great demand for reference
works, little demand for leisure
reading material. Volunteers to
work on student publications are
hard to find.
"The sad thing about it," a pro-
fessor at the University of Florida
said, "is that new generations of
students will never know what they
are missing."

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Obvious Advantages
The advantages of the trimester
'r are obvious, and difficult to de-
bate:
-A college on the trimester plan
can accommodate 30 per cent or
more students with no more class-
~ rooms and with only a modest in-
crease in staff. With college en-
rollments jumping from four mil-
lion now to eight million in 1970,
this program. may be the only sal-
e ' vation for hard-pressed state in-
stitutions.'
-Students can cut years off the
time they normally would spend
preparing themselves for a career.
This is particularly true of the
growing number who go on to'
professional or graduate school.
-The traditional long summer
vacation is a throw-back to the

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