Timeline Question: Starfleet Academy Academic Year?

Discussion in 'General Trek Discussion' started by JonnyQuest037, Dec 4, 2019.

  1. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I've been working on my Star Trek Chronology over the last few days and I've got a question on something that would help me out: Has it ever been canonically established when the academic year at Starfleet Academy begins or ends? I note the years when several characters are enrolling in or graduating from the Academy or going to Command School in my timeline, and I'd really like to nail down definitive months for those if I can.

    I know that in the TNG episode "The First Duty," the Enterprise-D returns to Earth for Picard to give the commencement address to that year's graduates, but I don't think that any particular time of year is specified in the episode. And Wesley comes close to leaving for the Academy in "Menage a Troi" and actually leaves for it in "Final Mission," but I don't think that either one of those gave a time of year, either.

    In the featurette on Picard's family album created for the Star Trek: Generations DVD, there was a page shown with a invitation to Jean-Luc Picard's graduation ceremony that gave a date of July 20, 2327. As that particular page never ended up onscreen, it shouldn't be regarded as official, but I may use it in the absence of any better information.

    The real-life U.S. Naval Academy has an academic year spanning from mid-August to late May, so maybe I should just go with that?

    Help me out -- Have any of the novels ever given dates for the beginning and/or end of the Starfleet Academy school year? Thanks in advance!
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019
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  2. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    Sadly, what little information is available, is contradictory. Using Stardate Calculator which while not official is used by Pocket Books for determining stardates in relation to the calendar year, Final Mission takes place in April, in which it's stated Wesley will be joining the Academy after the start of the academic year, meaning he'll have to do extra work to catch up. However, the stardate for Little Green Men places it in March, and there it is implied Nog is leaving for the start of the academic year. I guess we could assume the academic year starts at the beginning of April, but then catching up on just a few weeks of work shouldn't be that tall an order for Wesley.

    The stardate for The First Duty would place it in September. Which would imply an academic year at Starfleet Academy is only from April to September. Hmm, it seems they've placed the start of the academic year at what is traditionally considered the end of it, and the end at the traditional beginning.

    The date for Menage a Troi would place it in December, which if we are accepting April start date either implies Wesley was expecting a long trip back to Earth, or he'd have nearly four months of waiting before attending the Academy.
     
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  3. Lord Garth

    Lord Garth Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    There's a simple solution to this: April to September is one semester and October to March is the other. Both cover six months. They might've gone with this type of school year to keep it from being too Earth-centric, to satisfy other Federation worlds.
     
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  4. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    We need not assume that Stardate XX000 is in January, though. Indeed, it basically never is - the evidence much better fits it being around when the Paramount season starts in late summer/early fall. After all, that's where the stardates really come from.

    This would put the "First Duty" SD 45703 at the end of the spring semester all right. So add seven'ish months to the estimates above to get the overall consistent picture, with its specific anomalies.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  5. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Man, I was totally forgetting about Nog. Thanks for the reminder!
     
  6. Boris Skrbic

    Boris Skrbic Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Hard to say, but I don’t see the writers assuming a non-standard academic year only to match up with stardates, even though 2371 was stated in VGR for at least three widely-spaced points in the 48xxx range (which was after the Chronology had established the mapping of xx000 to New Year’s Day).
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Just about the only datapoint that would associate the Zeroes with New Year's is "Best of Both Worlds", indirectly by showing a winter sky over LaBarre, France. The Chronology assumption is not otherwise supported.

    But "academic year"? Supposedly, this city-sized establishment churns out officers for the needs of the entire Starfleet, yet in tiny classfuls where everybody knows each other (Data mentions a "class of 78", say :devil: ). It doesn't appear likely that the classes would run in synchronization at all: rather, one would enter at an arbitrary date and exit at an even more arbitrary one, after studies that may be completed in three years or linger on past the fifth. We never get any mention of a between-semesters general hiatus or anything: people just enroll and graduate, in batches of unknown size, in events never suggested to be massive Academy-wide celebrations.

    (Now, special entrance exams for the underage whiz kid quota might not be held every week. And perhaps normal entrance exams would also take place only two to four times a year in a given region. But once you are in, you can probably hop onboard any one of the dozens or hundreds of trains moving in parallel, taking your first classes in January, February, May or September just as you please.)

    Quite possibly the only one actually minding a calendar at the Academy is Boothby, making sure his daffodils bloom at just the right time to complement the petunias.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Admiral Admiral

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    That is certainly a possibility, but I'll be very surprised if any kind of thought was put into the matter on the shows at all. If anything, it's very likely coincidence Final Mission and Little Green Men were placed so relatively close together on the calendar.
    It is a matter I've thought about, particularly since Enterprise provided us the actual calendar dates for its episodes, and the seasons were never January-December. Indeed, compounding things, the Voyager episode Homestead, which gives its stardate as 54868.6 has an actual calendar date given in the episode as April 5 2378, while the stardate calculator would have you think it's meant to be November 14 2377.

    Curiously enough though, it is implied on DS9 the stardates do follow the calendar year, given Dr. Bashir's comment in You Are Cordially Invited about Worf and Dax having a "spring wedding." Stardate calculator gives the stardate for that episode as being in April, which would indeed be spring.
     
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  9. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    OTOH, the wedding is in the Bajoran system, which supposedly lives by the seasons of Bajor (there being no competing seasons - the only other inhabited places appear to be artificial environments, including the settlements on Bajor VIII). And we have every reason to think that the year on Bajor is nor merely out of phase with the year on Earth, but also markedly shorter than the Earth year: the supposedly annual Gratitude Festival falls on different parts of the show season in different show seasons.

    So it might well be spring on Bajor at SD 51247 - which would be late fall on Earth by the otherwise applicable "stardate season matches Paramount season" model, but since neither the bride nor the groom has any real ties to Earth...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  10. Boris Skrbic

    Boris Skrbic Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    By that logic “The Neutral Zone” would’ve been set in spring 2364 or so, which implies that Voyager would’ve been launched in late 2370 for SD 48038.5, not 2371 as stated in “Future’s End”. And it doesn’t explain “Homestead” either because that date then works out to early 2377, not 2378.
     
  11. StewMc

    StewMc Commodore Commodore

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    The concrete arguments for stardates being roughly matching the months of production/airing would be:

    44390.1 - Hindu Festival of Light
    54868.6 - April 5th 2378

    Concrete arguments for stardates equalling a calendar year would be:

    48038, 48315, 48579 and 48975 are all said to be the year 2371.
    As Boris says, you end up a year out by the time you get to Voyager using the other method.

    So really it could be either? I’d say the 2371 evidence sways it though.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019
  12. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    We're wandering a little far afield here, folks. I wasn't asking for attempts to translate Stardates into actual dates (I know that's impossible, because Stardates aren't meant to be real dates); I was asking if there's ever been any mentions like "Well, the Academy semester starts in September..." or "Since I graduated in July..."

    Does anyone recall any examples of dialogue like that, from either the shows or the novels? Or any other props or readouts that show graduation dates?
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    No dialogue references to Earth dates regarding graduation. Stardate references abound, foremost the "First Duty" bit that launched this: Picard is to give the commencement speech for "this year", suggesting that at least certain formalities are clustered as annual events rather than spread out across the Earth year.

    That there would exist a "semester" is confirmed in dialogue, although exclusively in VOY. Whether this is something matching an Earth year is never established, though. "Only two semesters" is how Paris describes his medical training in "Caretaker" - but if he dedicated time from half his studies to the field, the "only" bit doesn't make much sense; at least a couple of semesters per year might be preferable.

    As for stardates, there is no mention of the year 2378 anywhere: "Homestead" could take place in 2377 just as proscribed. And the idea that the early 48XXX stardates would fall on 2371 is conjecture, based on the assumption that every stardate year matches an Earth year; while the EMH and the ship are launched on that half of the stardate year, dialogue only indirectly suggests an Earth year there.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  14. dswynne1

    dswynne1 Commander Red Shirt

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    Everyone here is assuming that an academic term is based on a semester schedule. Why not based a term on a quarter term? IMO, a fourth term could serve as field studies, where the cadet can gain experience...
     
  15. Boris Skrbic

    Boris Skrbic Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The Okudas could’ve conjectured some kind of a detailed pattern, but they chose to stick with graduation in the fifth calendar year of studies.
     
  16. JonnyQuest037

    JonnyQuest037 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In D.C. Fontana's novel Vulcan's Glory, she posited that Vulcans take an accelerated two year course at the Academy, with the third year being the required year of cadet cruises on various ships. That makes a lot of sense to me.
    No, they posited that Starfleet Academy was a four-year institution in the Star Trek Chronology, but they noted the discrepancy of R.M. Merik being thrown out in his fifth year in "Bread and Circuses." They posited that maybe Merik did additional studies, or had to repeat a year like Wesley Crusher did.
     
  17. Boris Skrbic

    Boris Skrbic Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    It’s a four-year institution in such a way that officially the end year is the fifth year of study, eg. 2323, ‘24, ‘25, ‘26, ‘27 for Picard (in other words, always add four to obtain the exact year of graduation). I’m just pointing out that certain start-end combinations are off-limits officially, eg. four years from December 2322 to January 2327.
     
  18. Yonder Star

    Yonder Star Commodore Premium Member

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    Maybe ship based cruises for Cadets don't count against the four years at the Academy, so, the whole cycle is actually five years. Cycle: School, School, School, Cruise, School. Four years at Academy plus one year cruise. So, Merik could be thrown out in his fifth year.
     
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  19. Tenacity

    Tenacity Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Would that be "late fall" in the northern or southern hemisphere?
     
  20. MAGolding

    MAGolding Captain Captain

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    A four year college course of study usually starts in the fall of the first year and ends about 3.75 years later in the spring of the fifth year, as Boris Skrbic says.

    I note that West point has been a four year school since the middle of the 19th century, but some cadets have graduated an been commissioned after completing more or fewer years of study.

    I once looked through a register of West Point graduates and noted that some did graduate after five years, possibly even six years in some cases, during the 20th century, perhaps being academically challenged compared to those who graduated in the normal time but gifted compared to those who dropped out an failed to graduate.

    So there are two possible reasons for Merik dropping out of a four year school in his fifth year.

    On the h other hand, a relative of mine went toWest point during the summer encampment and enter in August on his 17th birthday, and graduated early due to a war, when he was 20 years and about 3 weeks old. He was not the youngest person to graduate and be commissioned in the 20th century, I found records of other 20-year-olds, some 19-year-olds, and one who was still 18.