Four years of two semesters of 4 courses of 15 weeks is the default model for American higher education, but it's a rigid temporal grid that doesn't fit a lot of students. And there's no reason that 15 weeks is the right amount of every subject.
At Mills I've been talking about "smashing the semester" by creating the infrastructure - new rules, expectations, schedules, and partnerships - that would allow us to offer learning opportunities in unconventionally sized boxes, degrees that could be earned at unconventional paces, and sequences that could be adapted so that students could learn what they need when they need it.
Smashing the semester can mean breaking semester courses up into half or quarter semester modules. It can mean a set of weekend workshops instead of weekly course meetings. It can mean courses that start a few weeks into the term or that finish a few weeks early. And these are just the start. Once we have broken the stranglehold of the semester course, we can start to develop teaching and learning practices that make it possible for students to put together a curriculum that fits their life. And then college does't have to be only for those who can adapt to a 4 by 2 by 15 by 4 grid.