In three years Samford plans to get rid of Jan Term and instead institute a Maymester. They think more students will take classes during a May term than a Jan term, but I think—had they polled students before making this decision—they would know this is unreasonable.
Everyone knows by the time Spring is coming to a close, most students are ready for a break, to be home or to start an internship. If a student needs to take summer classes, they would realistically rather take a cheaper class at an institution closer to home instead of through Samford. For me, I’m taking six credit hours this summer at a local community college for $900, similar to the cost of just one credit hour at Samford. So, no, students would not be more likely to take Maymester classes at Samford than during Jan Term, especially since Jan Term cuts the competition for Samford because few other institutions offer it.
Furthermore, Jan Term is often better than Maymester for a student who changes their major—as one often does at least once. Jan Term may be able to spare a student from having to graduate late (and take out a loan). When I changed my major to Nutrition & Dietetics, I learned that my plan of study required a series of classes that were each prerequisites for the next and yet were only offered in spring or fall. I found I needed to take General Chemistry before Organic Chem before Biochem before three consecutive advanced nutrition classes. Had I waited one more semester before changing majors, without the option of taking Gen Chem over Jan Term, I would end up graduating a whole year later. For some, that could really break the bank. Thus, Jan Term Term is helpful in allowing more flexibility when a student changes majors.
Moreover, January is an off-season for travel in most countries. This means orchestrating a class or trip for Jan Term is cheaper and more hassle-free than for May and provides a better learning environment for students when they are not quite as surrounded by tourists or pick-pockets.
Finally, I have several friends who are international students or missionary kids. Some of them already do not go home for Jan Term (though they would love to) because of weighing the cost of international travel for such a short time. If Jan Term is nixed, most of my international friends who do normally return home for Jan Term will no longer be willing to pay so much money for such a shortened stay. This means no Jan Term would cause may international students to only get to visit home to see their families during summer, increasing the time between them seeing their families and furthering homesickness.
My friends from other schools wish they had Jan Term. The only way Samford’s plan to get rid of it will change is if WE, the student body, voice our opinion loud and clear.
Rebecca Thompson, Columnist
[photo courtesy of Rebecca Thompson]