By Ryan and Garrett Allardyce
At the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate Institute officially switched to a semester school system. This means that Mowat students take four out of their eight courses every day for the first half of the year before moving on to the other four courses for the balance of the year. This was quite the adjustment from a non-semester system, where students take all eight courses throughout the entire year. Within the high school, students’ preferences for one system over the other has been split.
One big difference is that the semester system can feel considerably more repetitive than the non-semester system. During each semester, students take the same courses with the same teachers and sets of classmates every single school day. While this may be great for students who really enjoy particular subjects, this can be boring for those who like greater variety. Additionally, if there is a subject a student particularly dislikes, they will be forced to sit through it every day for several months.
If you are a big procrastinator when it comes to homework, the semester system can be challenging. Since you return to the same classes every day, any homework assigned must be completed that evening. In a non-semester system, you may have four more classes worth of homework to worry about, but you have two nights to complete it, and therefore you have greater flexibility. While the weeknights in a semester system may be considered a bit worse, the weekends seem to be a bit better, since you would only have four subjects to focus on across the two days.
Another substantial difference between the two systems is the placement of exams. In a non-semester system, all exams are taken over the course of a two-week period in June. In a semester system, exams are written over two one-week periods in February and June. The non-semester exam period is crammed with everything from the entire year and is arguably more stressful. Which is better? One very stressful period or two somewhat lesser ones?
Overall neither system is objectively superior and no matter which the school follows, students will experience the same amount of time in each class throughout the year. The important thing is to be focused on your learning.
Ryan and Garrett Allardyce are twins and Grade 12 students at Mowat CI. They are both enrolled in the performing arts honours drama program at Mowat and both play house league baseball with the West Hill Baseball League. They have lived in the Centennial area all their lives and hope to see everyone come out to the Mowat musical Mamma Mia! in December.