J-Term’s cost too high to continue program past ‘17

Brace yourself, Guilford College. January term may be on its way out.

In a meeting on March 28, Community Senate produced a fact sheet, which listed the primary reasons why J-Term may be discontinued after the 2017 session.

The main reason is that there has not been enough student participation in the program for the campus to be able to afford it. Only around 20 percent of students pay to take J-Term classes each year.

“For a program such as this to be sustainable, it would need closer to 70 percent participation from the student body,” the statement from Community Senate said.

According to Senate, the only way to remedy the lack of participation would be to either require all students to take a J-Term course or increase the cost of tuition, which would not be financially feasible for many students.

Rob Whitnell, chair of the January Term Assessment Committee (JTAC) and interim J-Term coordinator, said that JTAC recommended the program’s cancellation after the 2017 term based on analysis of how financially sound the program is considering the lack of vast participation from the student body.

“If January term is cancelled, the committee hopes that the best elements can be preserved in some way,” said Whitnell. “We made a couple suggestions about ways in which short-term study abroad and other innovative experiences may still be possible.”

JTAC completed a report last year in order to evaluate the success of J-Term and what actions needed to be taken in order to sustain the program. Last year, they fostered the same concern that there was not enough student participation for Guilford to afford it.

JTAC discussed exploring alternative models to not completely remove students’ opportunity for gaining credits outside of the fall, spring and summer semesters. One suggestion was to provide an end-of-semester May term for students, but the issue still remains that the costs of such a program significantly outweigh the benefits.

Professor of English Jim Hood said that if students are required to participate in order for the College to afford the program, faculty and staff would have to develop a wider variety of experiences in order to accommodate all of the students’ needs. Meanwile, Hood speculated that eliminating J-Term would not generate much negative response.

“Given the relatively small number of students who have participated in J-Term over the past four years, I expect there will be a small number who are really disappointed and a larger number who are indifferent,” said Hood.

Junior Molly Anne Marcotte, Community Senate president, commented that the January term provides students who participate with countless valuable benefits. Some benefits include the ability to explore other fields of study, attain necessary credits, the opportunity to study abroad in a manner less costly and less of a time commitment than a whole semester abroad and procure internships.

“With the recommendation for discontinuation of this term, we must be mindful of supporting Guilford students in pursuing these opportunities through other avenues and times throughout the year,” said Marcotte.

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