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Unusual courses enrich J-term experience

Story by Katie Ericson

Now only two years old, J-term is a popular option on campus. Many schools offer this three-week session as an opportunity for students to take classes they would not normally have time to participate in.

Some are for fun — the computer science class where students build functioning robots or the art course that explored museums around Des Moines.

Others are required courses, like classroom music methods. Either way, J-term offers students a chance to experience more.

“This class would be hell if I’d taken it during the semester,” said junior Madison Dockter, taking the moral fiction philosophy course this J-term. “But since it’s my only class right now, I can put way more effort into it.”

Some classes also offer a chance to study abroad. From courses in Hawaii on mental illnesses to a leadership course in the Bahamas, there were many to choose from.

Unlike semester-long study abroad programs or expensive summer courses, these only last for two or three weeks and are more affordable.

“I am so glad I took this course,” said senior Madeline Matthews.

She traveled abroad over J-term to London for the gothic literature course.

“I would never be able to do something like this during the summer. It’s just way too hard to make everything work, but it was perfect to just go in January and get credit, too,” Matthews said.

J-term is not free, but it can feel like it.

The money required for your extra course is divided between your fall and spring tuition. This way the payment is simply lumped onto your fees for the full semesters.

If you are living on campus, there is also a fee for meals and room and board.

However, if you live off campus this fee is waived, and you only have to pay for that additional course through your fall and spring fees.

But are there downsides to J-term? Last year was different so some students did have a downside — they did not take a class but they paid for it.

Rather than charge individual students for the price of their course, the university divided the fee between all students and everyone paid for the J-term.

This meant that if you were not taking a class, then you were paying for it.

However, they have changed the format now and only those who are participating in J-term pay for it.

The extra three weeks allow students with double or even triple majors to take necessary courses and offer new classes that professors may not have tried before.

“There are so many interesting options.It’s pretty hard to pick,” said junior Haley Hicks. “I mean, if your teacher’s willing to come in during break and teach you this course, you know it’s going to be worth it.”

Next J-term’s course options have not been listed yet but they will be soon.

Like last year, students will register for the 2015 J-term when they also register for their fall 2015 courses.


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