Auburn’s semesters have historically been 75 days long, but were shortened to 73 last year.
The most notable change is one that didn’t happen—still no fall break until Thanksgiving.
“The decision on the fall break at Thanksgiving is very old and goes back to the quarter system,” said Patricia Duffy, associate provost of undergraduate studies.
Andrew Harwell, a 2003 Auburn graduate, was a student when the switch was made from quarters to semesters.
Harwell said the change happened in fall of 2000, his sophomore year.
“People didn’t like it,” Harwell said. “When we were on quarters, we had 10 weeks of classes, and we were in class every day. Then when it changed to 15 weeks, it just seemed like such a drastic change. Students were not happy about it.”
On the quarters system, the fall quarter started in September, and students got the whole week off for Thanksgiving in November.
This practice was carried over to the 75-day schedule and now to the 73-day semester.
The University senate decides the calendar and length of semesters, Duffy said.
The most recent discussion regarding the length of semesters happened in September and October of 2009.
The structure of the semesters was changed in order to allow two days between final exams and graduation and seven days between graduation and the beginning of the next semester.
Also, five to six days of final exams are needed at the end of every semester.
Nine days are needed after the semester for the registrar’s office to process academic issues.
The University of Georgia and University of Alabama also have 75 days of classes, but most other schools in the country have shorter semesters, and if not shorter semesters, they have a fall break in the middle of the semester to give students a rest.
“This year, our fall break was Oct. 7 and 8,” said Sarah Rice, senior at the University of Tennessee. “It’s always a Thursday and Friday to give us a long weekend.”
UT’s fall semester started on Aug. 18, like Auburn’s, but the last day of class at UT is Nov. 30.
“I don’t think our semesters are too long,” Rice said, “but if we didn’t have a fall break, I would.
“I always need a break by the time October gets here. I think we should have a week, though, and not just two days.”
Most Auburn students are exhausted and ready for a long break by the time of Thanksgiving.
“Most other schools get a fall break in the middle of the semester, but we don’t,” said Kristina Culotta, sophomore in biomedical sciences. “A few breaks here and there would decrease stress for students and help us do better in our classes.”
Still, other students seem to be unaffected by the lack of a midsemester break.
“It doesn’t bother me that much,” said Tyler Hunt, freshman in mechanical engineering. “I like the way we do it at Auburn. I would rather have a long break, as opposed to a short one.”