The January term, otherwise known as a J-term, is an optional piece of a college’s spring semester where students can take one course within three weeks. Eastern University does not utilize this unique possible portion of the semester, but there may be benefit to integrating the J-term into Eastern University’s schedule.
Though Eastern University does not have a J-term, several local schools do. One of those schools is Messiah College, located in Mechanicsburg Pennsylvania. Martin Kolb is a Junior at Messiah College with a digital media major, a concentration in Church Media, and two minors in congregational ministries and theatre. Martin Kolb has also been through two J-terms in his time at Messiah College, and he quite a few thoughts on the mini semester, J-term.
Kolb says the J-term consists of one class. “Instead of focusing on many classes, you have one class you attend every day,” says Kolb. “It lasts a little over three weeks, and credits earned over the J-Term are counted as part of Spring semester. Since the J-Term is considered to be a portion of Spring Semester, it should be noted that the main part of Spring Semester is only 12 weeks long, in comparison to Fall Semester, which is 15 weeks. In general, J-Term is a nice way to ease into the Spring Semester.”
Kob states that a Messiah College “everyone is required to take a J-Term course their freshman and sophomore years, so naturally [he has] had two J-Term courses thus far.” During his first J-term Kolb, took his second of three Hebrew courses. “This was really nice, because it allowed me to take care of all of my required language credits during my Freshman year,” says Kolb.
There are plenty of benefits to taking a J-term. Kolb states, “In short, for any class that you have difficulty in, J-Term is a great time to focus on it for three weeks and get it out of the way so you can focus on other things during the main semester. If you choose to take an easier class for J-Term, then you have a lot of free time to hang out with friends and do other activities. For upperclassmen, if you decide not to take J-Term, then your Winter Break is simply extended from what it would be otherwise – who doesn’t like a longer break?”
Though the J-term is mostly positive for students, it does provide some negative aspects. When Kolb took “Hebrew II, [he] found that [he] had a quiz or exam every other day, and that wasn’t always pleasant.” Another negative Kolb notes “is that if you have J-Term, your Winter Break is shorter and thus you don’t get as much time to be home with family and friends.”
The J-term is not just a time for academics, but also a time for extracurricular activities and school clubs. During his J-term, Kolb got involved in his school’s theatre production. “Being part of The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe for J-Term was an absolute blast. Since I had not been on the stage since high school, it was a great reminder of what I loved about acting and gave me a much deeper appreciation for what actors do. We were in rehearsal from 9 to 4 every day with a lunch break at noon, and we also had some rehearsals in the evening for stage combat. Being with my peers every day gave me the opportunity to make deep friendships with others in the cast. The work was intense, but having the privilege to help put the show together is an experience I will never forget.”
Kolb appreciates his school’s J-term, and would like to encourage other schools to follow suit and adopt this unique semester of intense academics and unforgettable social experiences. “J-Term is a fantastic opportunity to learn something new, experience something different, and put your focus on something you may not have explored otherwise.”