What are your January 2013 plans? Consider J-Term

As you soak up the sun over summer break, do not ditch your thoughts about January term for next year.

In 2013, the January term pilot, an optional three-week experience for Guilford students, will officially commence. As an innovative way for students to get more hands-on learning experience and delve into the areas they are passionate about, students can choose from a variety of activities for academic credit.

“The blessing and the curse of being a student at a small private liberal arts college is having so much on your plate,” said Jack Zerbe, professor of theatre studies and director of study abroad.

“It’s very hard to get an in-depth experience on anything when you are spread so thin. The goal was for students to have an immersive experience that took them beyond traditional classroom learning.”

Students can choose from internships, group projects, community service activities, research projects and study abroad. Additionally, students can develop their own proposal for an independent project.

“I’d be interested in what I can do with an internship outside of school, or maybe even being a volunteer,” said Katie Myers, Early College student. “My main interest would be working with one of the professors to get a better feel (for) and to work on something specific, rather than take a general intro class.”

Junior Allison Semmler added, “I’m really excited that we’re getting a J-Term. … I hope it allows our classes to be more hands-on and break up the monotony of long semesters.”

Although there is a price — ranging from $600 to $6,000 — to take part in January term, there are a plethora of diverse and unique classes that students may not get to take otherwise; to name a few, there is an “App Development for iPhone and iPad” class and a “Cold Case
Investigation” class, both on campus. Additionally, for students who are interested in taking a break from North Carolina, there are study abroad trips to places such as Fiji to observe and study sharks, or Oxford, England where legendary writers such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien once worked and lived.

“Students who don’t usually get to study abroad due to sports or other obligations will get a chance to have incredible abroad experiences,” said Tim Leisman, junior and incoming Community Senate president. “I would love to study abroad for the J-Term but haven’t decided yet. I may end up staying in Greensboro, taking a course at Guilford. I might like to study intensive Arabic for the three weeks.”

While some may be skeptical about the short length of J-Term to fully gain an in-depth experience, the January Term committee disagrees.
“There is hard data and research that three-week experiences are almost as powerful as 12-15 week-long experiences,” said Zerbe. “Any faculty members who had these at their schools are very powerful advocates for it. For instance, me. I had a winter term when I was an undergraduate and it was my favorite thing.”

As the J-Term plans are finalized, it will ultimately be up to the students to contemplate and decide on whether to take or not to take this path.