Photo: Joey Gale
Winter break 2013 is going to be 45 days long. After all of the hot cocoa drinking, sledding and holiday celebrating, Drake students are going to be looking for something else to fill their time. J-Term offers the perfect opportunity to fill up long winter breaks with required classes, fun AOIs and study abroad experiences. The J-Term fair, held this past Tuesday, gave the faculty a chance to promote their classes, and the students a chance to sample their options for next year.
Many other schools have additional academic terms, like a January Term or May Term.
“These are a good way to fit in a class you wouldn’t have access to during the school year,” first-year Amber Gurican said. These give students the option to take unusual classes they wouldn’t ordinarily get the opportunity to take, like a Skiing class at MIT or a Hawaiian Food Preparation class at Illinois Wesleyan. Drake goes above and beyond by offering traveling experiences, like a trip to the Galapagos Islands or a trek across central Europe following the timeline of classical music.
The traveling, or off-campus, programs are the only ones that require extra fees — tuition for the next academic year has already been adjusted to accommodate on-campus classes in the new term. Other than room and board, all fees for the class are already built in. Sophomore Austin Cooke said that’s the best part of J-Terms. He sees them as “a great opportunity for extra credits, plus you’ve already paid for it.”
Upon entering the J-Term fair, the first booth all students make a beeline for is the residence life table. They want to know if they’ll have a place to live while the rest of the school is supposedly shut down over winter break. Goodwin-Kirk is the only hall that will be kept open for the duration of the break, designed to house the students that will be staying to take a class on campus. Because of this, students who have requested to register for a J-Term class will be given priority to GK when room registration rolls around.
The next booth to visit is the general information booth, where Art Sanders was holding court. Many may recognize Sanders from the emails he sends out regarding the J-Term and general student life. He was on the committee that originally established a J-Term at Drake. Concerned about whether students would be interested in taking J-Term classes, he conducted several random surveys of the student body. Interest in a J-Term was overwhelming.
Turns out, plenty of students would love the opportunity to get some credits out of the way. While there are classes offered to fit nearly every major, there are more of some than others. The administration and academic advisors have taken note of some of the more difficult areas of inquiry to fulfill, and gone out of their way to offer some. Numerous courses to accomplish the artistic experience, written communication and ethics AOIs were offered, giving students even more options and more opportunity to get in their graduation requirements.
Several of these classes also offer a service learning component, fulfilling the experiential learning AOI. This hands-on learning was often why each professor felt so passionate about their course. Because the J-Term courses are more specific and customized, like urban poverty in Des Moines instead of a general sociology class, the professors are able to teach a subject matter that they personally enjoy and get excited about.
With housing set, the class options are out and the professors are eager to teach, there’s no reason not to do a J-Term next year. Registration requests must be signed by the professor in charge of the class and the student’s academic advisor before being turned in to the college dean’s office by March 8. The turn around is a bit short, but student and professor interest in these courses has always been high, and Drake University is ready to experience the J-Term.