J Term VS May Term

Students from schools around the MIAC debate January term versus May term.

By Miranda Weippert | Features Reporter

January term is known as J-term at Bethel University. For many students, J-term brings a month of relaxation, a month of one class and not much else. J-term is the month of broom ball, movie marathons and many study abroad trips.

January term is nothing new to Bethel University. In fact, the first interim  was held in January, 1970.

“Before interim, Bethel had the traditional semester system,”Chief Institutional Data & Research Officer Daniel Nelson said. “Moving to the 4-1-4 academic calendar allowed fall term to finish before Christmas.”

All 13 MIAC schools except for Augsburg, Carleton, Concordia, Saint Benedict and Saint John’s have the 4-1-4 academic calendars, which means that they have fall semester, January term then spring semester.

“I like not having a January term,” Augsburg student Rachel Frantz said. “It means we get out very early in the spring, which allows us to get a jump on the summer jobs.”

January term has its benefits. It gives students the opportunity to study abroad, decrease their course load, get involved in an internship or even take advantage of a longer break. But even students who enjoy their traditional semester schedule think J-term would be fun.

“I like the breaks that we have for two semesters,” Augsburg student Ashley Pettipiece said. “And that we get out earlier then most schools, but I do think it would be more beneficial to do a J-term.”

“J-term gives students have a chance to explore different cultures and truly interact with various people and issues. They could even discover themselves or what their passions are.” – Connor Theisen, St. Thomas student

At Bethel, students take one course during J-term. The course is held for three hours for five days a week, and allows the student to take a course in just one month when it normally runs a full semester.

“J-term gives students have a chance to explore different cultures and truly interact with various people and issues,” St. Thomas student Connor Theisen said. “They could even discover themselves or what their passions are.”

Carleton is the only school out of the 13 MIAC schools that does trimesters. In trimesters, the academic year is divided into three terms – a fall, winter and spring term. These three academic terms are about 10 weeks long.

A new structure used in the academic calendar is May term– similar to J-term, but occurring in May. None of the 13 MIAC schools currently offer a May term, however, this is practiced at University of Minnesota.

When asking students about how they would feel if their J-term was switched to May term, student responses varied. Some were in favor of a J-term, like Gustavus student Ali Peterson.

“I personally love the idea of J-term and would find it inefficient to completely turn over to a May term,” Peterson said.”J-term is a great time for students to study abroad, especially if they don’t want to commit to a whole semester.”

For more information regarding the MIAC visit here.

For more information regarding each university or college visit the schools individual homepage.


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