Gates: The unintended benefits of the quarter system


Matt Gates, Columnist

We have many complaints about the quarter system: its fast pace, its large number of exams, its breaks that don’t align with semester schools.

But many of us note the benefits: the opportunity to explore a greater number of courses, the ability to finish a course we hate faster, the chance to double major or graduate early more easily. However, those looking on the positive side often miss another unintended benefit of the quarter system. Our breaks and summer vacation may not line up with our friends, but we may visit our friends at college.

It may not always be possible for students to visit old classmates at other schools. Travel is expensive, and people are busy. But for some who attend Northwestern, our high school friends go to college somewhere close to our hometown, and visits are possible.

While discussing Spring Break plans, I saw that many other students, particularly freshmen, planned to visit high school friends at their colleges over break. Visiting friends at another school gives us a glimpse into their new lives. Psych majors and engineers alike can enjoy examining how their friends behave in a new environment. Taking the time and effort to visit friends at other schools shows them that you care and helps maintain friendships from high school.

After three weeks of Winter Break, my high school friends and I agreed it was great to see each other again, but we quickly ran out of things to do in my hometown. Spring Break visits to other schools were more fun and interesting than my winter ones. I got to meet new people, go to new places and see what life is like at other schools. Walking around college campuses and towns with my friends was far more entertaining than driving around my hometown and pretending it was as much fun as when my friends had just gotten their licenses.

Seeing what other people are experiencing in college allows us to put our own experiences in perspective. It also makes us appreciate NU more. Many of them don’t have the school spirit or pride that NU does. One of my friends went to an Orgo class at another school and learned some classes are hard everywhere. Another one visited a high school friend at a school that is considered more of a party school than NU. She saw that while it is true that some schools have different social scenes than others, most schools have every type of person if you look hard enough.

Visiting friends is an interesting experience, especially for freshmen. If you didn’t take the time to visit people over Spring Break, there’s always September once classes at semester schools start. Or if you live close, you can get your friends to visit you and show them how awesome NU is.

Matt Gates is a Weinberg freshman. He can be reached at matthewgat[email protected]. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].