From my limited experience, many universities in North America with two-semester (full year) type schedule has the following timeline,
- Semester 1: Early September - Late November (or Late August - Early November)
- Semester 2: Early January - Late April (or late January - Early May)
During each semester, the students are expected to take 4 - 5 courses. After a designated number of years, the student graduates.
Is there a case to be made for adjusting how academic semesters are currently scheduled in North America (for selected schools)? My question is not whether or not it is feasible/do-able to implement these schedules at this moment in time. I understand that we need to respect the highschool-university-research/industry pipeline, which has adapted itself to the fall-spring schedule.
But I wonder if there is a case to be made (for selected schools, for instance) to adjust these dates to something that takes into consideration of factors such as regional climate or local culture (or some other factors).
For example, here is a possible schedule,
- Semester 1: Early January - Late April (or late January - Early May)
- Semester 2: Early September - Late November (or Late August - Early November)
The advantage of this schedule could be for high school students to have more time to decide on their major and more time to prepare for their dream universities, instead of having to prepare for it during the semester when they also need to do well on their coursework and other extracurricular activities.
Here is another schedule,
- Semester 1: Early March - Late June
- Semester 2: Early August - Late October
For instance, for schools located in the Northern parts of North America, this schedule takes into account of the climate of that region, which is characterized by cold weather and short daylight hours, both of which contributes to lower productivity and even seasonal depression. This schedule takes full advantage of the warmer summer months, where students can get more work done. During the winter, instead of staying at school, students can take internships abroad in warmer regions of the world. Furthermore, it gives high school student ample time to explore and decide on their future studies (or "taking a gap year").
Do these alternative proposals make sense? What are the potential drawbacks? Are there universities that do implement these alternative schedules?