Now that the middle of the semester is fast approaching, you’ll probably start thinking about the classes that you’ll be registering for next semester. In addition to this, you’ll also probably want to think about if you’re going to take a J-term (“January-term,” also known as “winter term”) class. There are many reasons that you might consider taking one.
First, and probably most likely, is that you need the credits. Some schools require a number of credits that include four full-time years as well as at least one J-term or summer class. If this is the case, you might be trying to get that one extra class out of the way.
Another common reason for taking a J-term class is for exploring some options outside of your major. Because they’re so short, they make for great “curiosity” classes. You can get a pretty good idea of what it takes to study another subject, and see if you like it enough to add a minor or even another major (or maybe you’re considering changing your current major to another one, and want to see if you really like the subject first).
Studying abroad is also another reason for taking one of these classes; instead of living in another country for a whole semester, you’ll only be there for four or five weeks.
Important Things to Keep in Mind
No matter why you think you’d like to take a J-term class, you probably have a few questions about them. So we are going to provide a few quick answers so you can make an informed decisions.
First, don’t think that J-term classes are remedial. Many people take them for many reasons. Yes, sometimes it’s because they failed the class during the semester. But that will rarely define the class. In fact, you’ll often find that everyone in the class is highly motivated, because they’re taking a class outside of the normal semester schedule.
J-term classes can be difficult. You’re packing a full semester’s worth of class (or pretty close) into about a month, so you can bet on having a lot to read, probably a lot to write, and certainly a lot to be tested upon. Don’t worry, though—your professors know that it can be tough, and they’re usually pretty good about preparing you for the hard parts of the class.
Class periods are significantly longer during J-term because you need to fit a semester’s worth of content into a shorter period of time. Again, professors are sensitive to the needs of restless college students—you’ll usually get a break or two, and many professors will encourage a lot of conversation during class to keep everyone awake.
You can take just about any class during J-term. You won’t be limited to non-traditional classes or exploratory seminars. You can take an introduction to calculus or first-level geography, of course, you usually can take those off-the-wall classes, as well.