here’s a quarter; call somebody who cares

Well friends, it looks like the semester is winding down. Only not in Ruston, Louisiana. They don’t even have semesters there.

La Tech emblemNo, Louisiana Tech is a Quarter System school. That means that while most of us minister inside 2 16-week semesters, Ruston college ministers work inside 3 11-week quarters. (I ran into the Quarter System in Chicago, too, and the University of Chicago offers a good, brief explanation of the system right here.)

Besides the shorter academic period, there are other quirks to the Quarter System that affect students and the ministries serving them:

  • a much shorter Winter Break, which takes place right in the middle of the Winter Quarter
  • a full week-and-a-half break at Thanksgiving (sufficient time for Fall Break mission trips)
  • an extra dose of start-up and final exam periods in the annual college calendar

So you might be able to imagine the implications…

Today, on Dec. 14th, while most of us are seeing the very end of a semester, Ruston ministers are in the middle of their Winter Quarter. In this Quarter, there are four weeks of classes before the Break – extending right up to December 21st. So how easy is it to start ministry or motivate students during that pre-Christmas month of classes?

If you do build momentum during that time, how do you keep it going after the Winter Break, for the final 7 weeks of this Quarter?

Furthermore, how do you minister effectively when so much of your time is spent starting a Quarter or finishing it up?

So it was interesting to learn this week about that unique College Ministry Context, and to watch the ministers in Ruston navigate the tricky pre-Break month right now.

Not that the situation is bleak, by any means – it’s just tricky! There are, in fact, several great ministries serving Louisiana Tech. But just like every College Ministry Context, brilliance is needed to navigate the unique concerns of this “tribe.”

For those not “quarter-systemed,” the situation makes for good thinking-practice: How would you minister at a Quarter System school?


  1. Quarter schools are much more normal on the west coast. I’ve ministered on both types of campuses, and the scheduling makes a difference.

    Scheduling Fall retreats is very difficult – by the time students trust you enough to head out into the woods (and their parents trust you enough to let them), you’re in the middle of midterms.

    On the plus side, you get to restart things every 10 weeks. It means a dying Bible study can be revamped pretty quickly.

    Overall, one of the biggest challenges is coordinating with semester-based schools for regional retreats. Just about the only weekend that works is Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend.

    Love the blog – keep posting your observations. People are reading them.

  2. Pingback: hair on fire « Exploring College Ministry (daily notes on our mission field)

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