Inevitably, when comparing Northwestern’s quarter system to the semester system of my state school friends, Northwestern loses in almost every aspect. There is an awkward tango of timelines that begins in September when my summer is seemingly cut short by the shipping away of my friends to their respective semester schools. Because of this, I spent an entire month scrolling past Facebook photos of freshmen bonding while all I had left were the neighborhood kids. Then comes December when I’m cruelly thrust back into Chicago winters like a fetus brought into the bitter cold world much too soon. Fast forward to June, as my state school friends are experiencing the sweet, supple release of summer, while I’m still here wondering why the hell I didn’t go to a school that went by semesters.
On the surface it appears that I will be destined to a life of lost friends and lots of extra schoolwork, but upon closer inspection and a lot of self-persuasion I have come to embrace Northwestern’s poor timing. There’s no denying that with extra classes comes extra credits, and in the long run declaring a double major or minor will almost be like destiny. The quarter system also ensures that I’ll be able to take as many interesting classes as my heart desires and if I have any unpleasant ones, I can at least take solace in knowing that it will all be over soon. Even though I’ve had my vacation time cut off, having it cut off for the sake of getting an education makes me less objectionable.
Having to dive back into classes after a short break has been an unexpectedly cold slap in the face, but just as in any regulation swimming pool or body of water, eventually I’ve been able to acclimate. Dealing with fast-paced classes and assignments has gotten easier since I first started college, and college as a whole has gotten less stressful. It seems like students at Northwestern are always getting things done, and admittedly it is because we’re not really given a chance to be lazy.
My friends often offer their condolences when they hear how little time I have for break, but gradually I’ve come to realize that time is just a concept. When one is looking to gain as much from their college experience, measuring life or location changes by time becomes less and less relevant. Winter break was not defined by three weeks, but as a short moment to enjoy my friends and family before getting back to work—just enough time to cool down before getting back into the swing of things. Even though the quarter system blows, it has some upsides in the long run, and besides, you have to admit your friends back home were getting boring anyway.