Quarter System

May 09, 2023 3 min read

This blog post is an excerpt from IVO's We Gaucho Back: UCSB Freshman Student Guide

Something which might get overlooked coming out of high school or a community college is the transition from semester-based schooling to the Quarter System.

It’s not a completely daunting task to transition from one to the next, but we advocate preparedness first and foremost. 

The first thing you’re going to notice in the quarter system is that things will, likely, be going by a lot faster than you were expecting them to. Reading three to four novels in a philosophy class in one semester will be toned down to one to two, but these are going to provide the bulk of in-class language and concepts, which will then be used on quizzes and tests, so we advocate actually reading the assigned pieces. Also, articles are going to be big here, expect to see a lot of those on Gauchospace, the online site which most professors and TA’s prefer to run their class assignments and announcements through.


Gauchospace is pretty easy to get the hang of; the website is easy to navigate and you can do such tasks as check grades, turn in assignments, and take quizzes - just to name a few. By Week 3 you should understand this system pretty well. We’d also like to point out that the quarter system is 10 weeks long, with the last week considered Dead Week.

Dead Week

Dead Week is used for wrapping up final papers and studying for finals. Before this week hits, we highly recommend you get stuff like grocery shopping and laundry out of the way, as this is typically a high-maintenance week. Rest assured, countless Gauchos have survived before and we have the utmost faith that you all will as well.

Selecting Classes

Something we don’t want to forget to mention is that you have to pick your classes for subsequent quarters during weeks 4-6. During this time period, you’ll receive 3 pass times, where you can accumulate classes and their corresponding units. Each pass time will be about a two-day period and you’ll have a unit maximum that you can add each time, this means you will be able to only get a certain number of classes per go. 12 units classifies as a full course load in the UC quarter system (a standard class is 4 units: a 12 unit quarter = 3 classes) and while you might not be able to get all the units you need to get in your first pass time, you should be able to on the second go.

It is worth noting, too, that classes fill up relatively quickly and you might have to make some adjustments to your schedule. More times than not, we can state that most of us had to change our schedules based on class availability and unit/pass time restrictions, but we’ve all made it through and you all will be able to as well. 

'Crashing' a Class

Afraid that you didn’t get into a class because it was full during your pass time? Crashing a class at the beginning of the quarter is standard. There’s hustling and shuffling that happens during the first or second week of the quarter. Make sure you reach out to the professor as soon as possible via email showing your interest in the class. Make sure you arrive on time during the first week to classes you ‘crash’. 

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