New Calendar FAQ
Information regarding Unity College's new calendar
What is the new calendar?
The Flagship campus of Unity College is adopting a new four-term calendar beginning in Fall 2020. This new calendar will include four terms (Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer). Students will make traditional academic progress by attending three terms per year, which will be covered by regular tuition. A student may elect to attend the fourth term to accelerate their progress for additional tuition.
Academic Calendar visual
Why are we changing the calendar?
The Flagship is adopting a new calendar because it provides clear benefits for all students. The new calendar will allow students to focus on fewer classes at a time while having more flexible scheduling for internships, work, and vacation. Being able to incorporate 2-week and 8-week courses into a term allows for more travel courses and in-depth experiential learning opportunities than our current semester system. Offering four shorter terms instead of the current two longer terms gives students more options in designing a three-term schedule that best fits their needs.
When will this change happen?
The new calendar will begin for the Flagship in Fall 2020.
Will the new calendar make it difficult for current students to graduate on time?
No. Students planning to graduate in December of 2020 will still be able to do so, and all current students will be able to complete their chosen degree major program as planned and on-time within the three-term schedule. For example, a junior who has earned 90 credits by the end of spring 2019 will be able to graduate in spring 2020 after earning an additional 30 credits using the same degree major checklist.
How many credits do I have to take each term?
In our current two-semester calendar, students attend classes for 30 weeks and earn an average of 15 credits each term (or 30 credits each year). To graduate, they must earn 120 credits. In the new calendar, students will attend classes for 30 weeks – spread out over three terms – and earn an average of 10 credits each term (or 30 credits each year). They must earn 120 credits to graduate. The only difference in the new calendar will be how the credits are spread out – over three shorter terms instead of two longer ones.
What are we doing to keep classes from being cancelled?
We recognize that cancelling classes is disruptive and disappointing. We are building a schedule and planning for classes based on student needs in an attempt to ensure students get the classes they need or offering a substitution that will meet the degree or graduation requirements of students.
Is it an option to go four terms in a row? If so, why? Isn’t the point to have a term off each year?
A full-time student on track to complete their degree in four years should plan on attending three terms per year. Attending a fourth term will accelerate time to graduation but is optional.
What does the new calendar mean for double majors?
Our Double Major policy has not changed. Students will still be able to complete a double major if they complete all of the required classes for each major. Students will need to continue to follow our current practice that requires students to pick a primary major. The same is true of minors; this policy has not changed and students will still be able to complete a minor.
Do shorter classes mean covering more material without applying it?
Classes will be designed to include an appropriate level and amount of material to match the credits associated with the class. This is based on a straightforward calculation – the same calculation we use in our current curriculum – of how many hours of in-class work and outside-of-class work are expected per credit hour. Higher credit bearing classes may incorporate new material and an opportunity to apply those concepts. A class with fewer credits would likely be more of a skill based class that students will be able to apply in later classes or future employment.
How will finals week work in the new calendar?
Finals will follow our current practice. The final exam block of time is currently incorporated into the expected contact hours for each class. Whether the time is used for a final exam, final presentation, etc, will remain at the discretion of the faculty.
Why is it better to take fewer courses at a time?
In our current semester model, most students enroll in 5 courses per semester, each meeting two to three times weekly for 50 or 75 minutes for lecture and 2-3 hours for labs. Transitions from one class to another are cognitively “costly” for many students because they move quickly and frequently between contexts that demand highly focused thinking about different topics. This often impedes a student’s ability to make lasting neural connections. Thus, new information is not stored in long-term memory and is “lost.” The new calendar will enable us to schedule classes that meet in longer blocks of time, lessening the frequency of transitions and better supporting student’s efforts to construct new knowledge.
Will moving to a new calendar “water down” our courses?
Protecting academic rigor is something we take very seriously and it is one of the reasons why we have chosen to adopt the new calendar. As explained above, research shows that students can more successfully focus by taking fewer classes at a time, in longer sessions. Longer sessions also enable instructors to incorporate a greater variety of activity structures (e.g., interactive lectures, field trips, and opportunities for individuals to practice new skills). Other institutions that have transitioned to similar calendars or to one course at a time structures have reported that students are more successful as measured by course completion and continued progress toward degree.
Is the Wildlife Biology Program still going to be a certified course?
The Wildlife Biology degree is not currently “Certified,” but rather offers classes that meet the Wildlife Society’s “Certified Wildlife Biologist” list of required classes. We will continue to offer classes that students need to work toward this Wildlife Certification.
Does the new calendar affect the catalog I came in under?
All students will follow the new academic calendar, but students will continue to have the option to follow the catalog under which they matriculated. This means that, in order to earn their degree, a student must complete the courses (or equivalent and approved substitutions) listed under degree major requirements in the catalog. All the courses (or their equivalent) required for current students to complete their degree major will be offered in the new calendar.
How will the new calendar affect financial aid and scholarships?
Financial aid will be divided equally across the three terms a student is required to attend. Merit scholarships will also be divided equally across the three required quarters.
Can students participate in work study in any term?
Students will be able to use their work study funds in any of the three quarters they chose to attend. Students will be able to choose when they use funds. The supervisors will need to take into consideration when hiring students what each student’s academic plan looks like to plan accordingly.
Will the new calendar affect financial aid, especially for veterans?
Unity College will work with the Veterans Administration to determine how VA benefits will be released. We currently offer 5 week terms in Unity College Distance Education and have had no issues with receiving students’ funds.
If a student wants to attend all four terms, will there be an additional cost?
Full-time tuition will cover three terms per academic year, and the optional fourth would require an additional payment.
How will the new calendar affect tuition and billing?
The College tuition is reviewed annually and may change in response to multiple factors. However, we do not anticipate an increase in tuition specifically as a consequence of adopting the new calendar. Tuition will be billed by term.
How will our current internships be affected?
Current internships and Summer 2020 internships will not be affected at all by the transition to a new calendar, which does not begin until Fall 2020.
How will the new quarter calendar affect internships in the future?
Currently, most students complete their internships in the summer, although Fall and Spring internships are available. The quarter calendar allows students more flexibility to complete an internship in any of the four terms, while also staying on track to make progress toward their degree requirements.
How will internships and summer jobs work? Does the new calendar allow enough time?
Internships can be completed in as few as 5 weeks. Students can choose to work part time, while also taking classes or completing an internship.
How will this work with summer jobs?
The quarter calendar gives Unity College students the advantage of being able to work past Labor Day, which many colleges and universities are unable to offer, and provides greater flexibility for students to accept internships that are offered during alternative times throughout the year.
Will residence life staff be available for students in every term?
The Residential Life team chooses and trains additional students each year to serve as Resident Advisors to cover for RAs who graduate early or decide to complete an internship away from campus. We plan to continue this practice to ensure continual coverage as Resident Advisors transition between quarters and take advantage of multiple opportunities that become available to them.
How will the calendar affect residence hall assignments? What if my roommate and I are not planning to be on campus during the same three terms in an academic year?
We will continue to use the current process of room selection once a year. If a student requests a change due to their roommate leaving for a term, they will work with the Housing Director to find a new roommate or move to a new room or building.
How will the school provide for students who choose to enroll in summer term?
Unity College currently allows students to stay during the summer for internships and other academic purposes. Housing, meals, and health services will be available to students enrolled during summer term. Full-time staff and faculty, supported by adjunct faculty as per our current practice, will support students throughout summer term just as they do during the remaining three academic terms.
Some off-campus leases end in May and some students have already signed 2020-2021 lease agreements. What options are available for those students who will need housing during the last 2-3 weeks of spring 2021 term?
For students in this situation, we recommend a discussion with their landlords that creates an amendment to the lease that allows for extra time.
How does this affect study abroad opportunities?
Study abroad opportunities are available in many different formats and time frames. Students can work with staff in the Career Resource Center to find an opportunity that meets what they may be looking for.
How will the new calendar affect athletics and clubs?
Athletes will work with the Director of Athletics and their academic advisors to determine the best course of action for classes and when they are offered to ensure completion of academic requirements. Students in clubs will work with their Club advisors to maintain momentum during both busy and quiet times, as they do now.
When will preseason start and how will this change affect the way that we interact with the rest of the conference?
The athletic department has been working with the YSCC to schedule games based on the new quarter calendar and has solidified a schedule that allows the Unity Rams to compete within the normal fall schedule with priority scheduling. Pre-season will start before the academic term as it does now to allow for more conditioning and competition time.
How will the new calendar affect students with extracurricular activities and jobs or fire/ambulance responsibilities?
Students will be able to continue to participate in extracurricular activities and external employment opportunities as they do now.
Breaks and Vacations
With shortened time periods for learning, how will a student who has an emergency that requires them to be gone for a few days be able to catch up with class work?
The new calendar allows students who need to take time away from campus a more flexible return date. Consistent with our current practice, students who need accommodations will work with the Dean of Students on the best plan for returning to classes.
Will the new calendar mean that students will have more breaks? Will this be difficult for students who travel large distances to get home to family?
Fall breaks will occur during the same time that our current breaks are scheduled: around the Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year holidays. Most students choose to travel home during these breaks, but students unable to travel can work with the Housing Director to request accommodations. Students who require housing during times where they are not in classes will be able to engage in community service, trainings, certifications and volunteer opportunities.
Students will be able to schedule one 2-week break at the beginning or end of each of the remaining terms. Students who would prefer not to travel as frequently can arrange their schedules so that their 2-week breaks “stack” — meaning that they occur at the end of one term and the beginning of the subsequent term. This would allow students to travel only once and remain at home for a longer period of time (4 weeks).
Do incoming students know about the new calendar?
Yes, incoming students are informed of the new calendar. Responses have been very positive and prospective students appreciate the flexibility offered by the new calendar.