UniversityStudent perspectives: A look at the implications of the recent academic calendar shift
Student perspectives: A look at the implications of the recent academic calendar shift
Tags:
October 25, 2015
Tags:
October 25, 2015

Following the decision to shift the academic calendar in line with the 2015 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) integration, a four-month break was implemented by the University this year, which began when the third term of academic year 2014-2015 ended on the third week of April.

A special term was offered to all students of DLSU from May 6 to July 30 to make up for the time that would normally be delegated for the first term of the academic year. Following the shift in the academic calendar, classes for first term this year began last August 24.

 

In review

The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) has previously commented that changing the academic calendar of colleges and universities is not advisable due to “climatic factors and other socio-economic and cultural considerations.” Nonetheless, CHED stated that higher education institutions (HEIs) could “start their academic years whenever, provided that they do not go against any law.”

Last academic year, the University of the Philippines and University of Santo Tomas were among the first institutions in the Philippines to implement the academic calendar shift. After much deliberation and planning which took place over the course of last year, DLSU and Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) were both set to follow suit this year. During the four-month break, both DLSU and ADMU offered a transition period for students to adjust to the shift and its effects.

Since last year, universities and critics had already been debating on whether the academic calendar shift will do more good than harm. On one hand, the shift will allow for the internationalization of HEIs and synchronization of their respective academic calendars to those of universities in other countries.

“In my opinion, I think it’s effective or at least beneficial for students who would want to transfer schools or want to go to an exchange program,” comments Christelle Jayco (III, AEF-ADV). She reasons, “Assuming the ASEAN integration takes place and students from [the] member countries fly to each other’s countries to study, at least they have the same schedule already.”

However, the shift has also been viewed negatively. Among the issues raised are shorter term breaks and students possibly getting delayed.

Jayco mentions that because of the academic calendar shift, DLSU students will not be able to enjoy a long summer break but instead only a two- or three-week term break in between each term because of the University’s trimestral system. “There will also be no more summer term, so students who are delayed or wish to catch up with their academics won’t get to do so. [The same goes for] students who would want to attend an internship program during the summer,” she adds.

Concept - Henry Sy Sr. Hall []

Reaping the benefits

During the 11-week special term in DLSU, classes were offered to undergraduate and graduate students of the University. Many students took advantage of the long break, although the University initially offered enrollment to the special term only for graduating students.

Aside from graduating students, many others utilized the special term in enrolling in available subjects in advance, so as to “deload” in the current academic year or to make up for lost units and pick up speed to graduate on time, and taking their practicum courses, as prescribed by their respective flowcharts or otherwise.

James Cuevas (III, BS-LGL) shares that he spent the long break at school, having taken a total of 18 units over the special term. “I saw it as a chance to catch up on missed units. I even took some subjects in advance,” he says. He shares that he was also able to participate in an international conference in Indonesia
during the long break.

Meanwhile, Allison Del Rosario (III, AB-OSDM) is one of the many students who took advantage of the special term by taking her internship over the long break. Del Rosario, who was interning during the last two months of the special term, points out, “The special term was very beneficial for us. The process of [applying to different companies] was lengthy. Some of us had to wait for 1-2 weeks just so we can schedule an interview, and another week or even more just to get the results. [We were also able to] work full-time, five [days] a week.”

According to Del Rosario, she chose to take her practicum units over the special term because doing so during a regular term would have been “a huge hassle for students,” seeing as they would have to complete their internship hours while simultaneously being enrolled in other subjects. “First, we [would have to] worry about our schedule for school to give way for work hours. Second, we are already starting with our thesis proposal stage. Majors alone [are already stressful], and if thesis plus practicum were added to the equation, that would really be [draining],” she mentions.

While Del Rosario’s time spent for practicum was counted towards the completion of her academic requirements, some students opted to spend their long break interning for companies even though this would not be considered as part of their actual practicum requirements for their degree programs.

Although her internship wasn’t counted as part of her official practicum hours, Zophia Nicolas (III, CHE) shares that she spent her long break interning for Pascual Laboratories, through the initiative of her batch government unit, 68th ENG. “Since this was the only summer break that I’ll have that’s
more than a month, I figured I should do something that I can’t do in our short summer breaks,” she says. “In my internship program in Pascual Lab, we were able to apply the concepts in chemistry learned in my University classes by working in their quality control
laboratory,” she recounts.

Some others chose to pursue internships without having their hours credited for various other reasons, such as their respective departments not allowing enrollment for practicum outside of the term assigned in the flowchart, and other factors like their scholarships not covering tuition and fees during the special term.

Whatever the reason, students who chose to spend their long break interning or enrolled in summer classes maintain that the special term was beneficial for them.

Del Rosario explains, “Taking my internship during the special term felt like a huge weight was put off my shoulders, so it felt really beneficial. Some people would extend their stay in DLSU for a term just to do their internship.”

Cuevas shares the same sentiments, even though he admits he has been following his flowchart religiously and is expected to graduate on time. He mentions that enrolling during the special term let him have a significantly lesser load for his remaining terms. “The special term offset much of the weight from my subjects and [for my last year] I have less units to take. I can focus on my thesis [now] and still have some time for myself,” he comments.