Starting in January 2013, Drake students will have a new way to spend their winter break. Drake faculty and Student Senate have approved plans for a January term, also called a J-term or January Experience.
The J-term is a chance to take a class or travel seminar that will last for around three weeks, although some travel seminars may start earlier. Interested students can register for a course when they register for their fall classes this spring.
Not everything is planned for J-term, however. There are no plans for what student room and board will be like for on-campus classes, and the staff is still trying to find a way to make the campus similar to a regular semester during J-term. A curriculum committee is looking at class ideas, and there will be multiple on- and off-campus opportunities for students.
Two main types of courses are available. On-campus courses would give students the opportunity to complete a core course requirement in a matter of week. Travel seminars will give students the opportunity to go to a variety of places from Indian burial grounds in western Iowa to Poland to study international advertising to the Bahamas to become certified in sailing.
“The overarching theme would be to provide opportunities for different experiences,” said Dorothy Pisarski, assistant professor of advertising who is on the J-term committee. “These opportunities include smaller classes, which would give students and faculty more chances to learn, as well as allow students to travel abroad or graduate early who wouldn’t have other wise.”
Sen. Amanda Laurent said that Drake is reaching out to students, and students should accept the challenge.
“I would really encourage students to take advantage of this opportunity because it is a unique experience to Drake and allows students to fulfill Drake’s mission statement,” Laurent said.
Similar opportunities are being offered in similar schools across the Midwest, and Drake is finally catching up.
“Drake is almost behind on this movement, and I’m happy Drake is making a positive change in its curriculum,” Laurent said.
For the most part, current first-year students were unsure what the program was, but overall felt that it was a good idea.
“I have no idea what it is, no one told me anything about it,” first-year Caroline Davidson said. “I guess if it’s optional, it’s a fine idea. I probably wouldn’t do it.”
First-year Jennifer Heartley said that J-term gives students different class options.
“It’s good for Drake to come up with an alternative so students are less stressed fitting everything in,” Heartley said.
First-year Aigner Watkins said that J-term will benefit Drake students.
“I think it will be a good program,” Watkins said. “It supplies a smaller study opportunity for people who don’t want to spend all of break at home and want to get credits.”
First-year Haley Hicks said she is happy to hear that the program is not required.
“It doesn’t sound too bad if it’s optional,” Hicks said. “A lot of people have been talking about how it’s required.”
There will be additional information about J-term during the spring semester, possibly at the spring activities fair.