Most of California’s 112 community colleges follow a semester schedule. But three community colleges in the golden state have opted to use the quarter system. According to De Anza College, the nearest of the quarterly campuses to Irvine, the decision was made to provide greater opportunities for accelerated students. Students at schools with 12-week quarters have more chances to enroll in necessary courses and have the ability to complete more courses in a shorter time period.
De Anza College
Situated in the Santa Cruz Mountains about six hours north of Irvine, De Anza College is one of the biggest community college campuses in the United States. Along with Foothill College, the Cupertino-based De Anza makes up the Foothill-De Anza Community College District. As of 2011, average enrollment at De Anza College was 25,000 students. De Anza regularly sends more transfer students to the University of California and California State University systems than any other state community college campus. The school’s fall quarter runs September through December, the winter quarter January through March and the spring quarter April through June. The summer quarter varies, but typically runs June through August. For a fee, De Anza College provides dormitories for students who live a great distance away.
As the other half of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, Foothill College is located in Los Altos Hills north of De Anza Community College. Like its sister school, Foothill features four quarters, beginning in September, January, April and June. The Bay Area school was the first campus in California’s community college system to offer online courses. Foothill College is slightly smaller than De Anza, serving 18,000 students on average, according to 2011 statistics. The school offers 79 associate degree programs and 107 specialty certificate programs. Foothill also allows students to live in campus-provided housing.
Lake Tahoe Community College
Lake Tahoe Community College is the last of the three California campuses on the quarter system. Although the 500-mile distance between South Lake Tahoe and Irvine is certainly not a reasonable commute, the school does furnish students with information about available off-campus housing. Lake Tahoe is a significantly smaller campus than Foothill and De Anza with just 4,000 students enrolling each quarter. Many students attend the campus primarily for access to outdoor recreation such as skiing, hiking, camping and mountain biking in the alpine Tahoe region. Quarters at Lake Tahoe Community College kick off in late September, early January, early April and late June.
Universities That Use Quarter Systems
The quarters at Foothill, De Anza and Lake Tahoe community colleges are based on the academic calendars of highly acclaimed Stanford University and most schools in the University of California system. UC campuses that use quarters include Irvine, Riverside, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and Davis. UC Merced and UC Berkeley rely on semesters. Private universities on the quarter system near Irvine include Santa Clara University and La Sierra University.
Sierra Rose is a California-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in several newspapers, the "Sierra Style" family of magazines and on numerous business websites. She previously worked as a business and finance reporter and has since branched out to cover news, home and garden topics. Rose has a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Sacramento State University.