J-termination or determination?

J-term still exists in Hamline’s curriculum, but for how much longer?

Hanna Bubser, Senior Columnist

A typical Hamline calendar year is set up as follows: fall semester starts after Labor Day and cuts into the first few weeks of December. Winter break stretches for a couple of weeks, and then January term (more affectionately called J-term), begins the first week of the new year. Once that ends, students have a few days to recuperate before returning for spring semester in early February. By May, classes are done for the most part unless you participate in the less popular May term or take some summer courses.

This is not a horrible layout. Students still get a decent sized summer to look forward to, some nice breaks thrown in there and flexibility in the month of January to either take a class, work or go home to your family. As someone who works in admission for our school, I know that J-term is a big selling point. But ever since I came to Hamline as a first-year, so much of the structure of J-term has changed. It is barely recognizable to what it used to be.

In the past, the best part about J-term was that it was at no additional charge to students. Imagine the relief students would feel if they didn’t have quite enough time to fit in a certain course, but it was being offered during J-term. They could sign up for it, no problem! Plus, no further dents in their wallet! It truly was a time to be alive, and as someone who has only taken one J-term course, it was definitely something that I didn’t take enough advantage of.

There isn’t as much ease with J-term anymore. Once Hamline began charging extra for it, everyone rolled their eyes. It was quickly apparent that not only were the students frustrated by this but the faculty as well. Less courses were offered to choose from, and there was less motivation for professors to teach these additional courses that no one wanted to pay out of pocket for. Honestly, who can blame either party? Basically, J-term was being set up to fail. I figured that Hamline was trying to phase it out, which is why they started charging for it.

Yet somehow, it is still here. It boggles my mind that enough students signed up for it last year to justify running courses. I mean, that’s wonderful for them if they have the money and time, but I went nowhere near those course listings. It wasn’t worth it to me. It still isn’t. Instead, I usually take on more hours at work during January. That way, I can make money instead of spending it on a singular class.

Speaking of a singular class, your options regarding which class that will be are limited. The Hamline website currently has some courses listed under Winter 2019.

The majors represented within these courses are art, art history, biology, communications, creative writing, graduate-level education, exercise science, global studies, philosophy, political science and psychology. Sprinkled within those are an interdisciplinary jewelry making course, English as a second language and a statistics course. Although this list is long, it is not exhaustive. There is absolutely no representation of certain majors or departments on campus and minimal choices within the departments that are participating. J-term went from an opportunity to squeeze in a course for your Hamline Plan to a mixed bag of special topics courses with few intro level choices.

That being said, what purpose does J-term now serve? Is it simply a ploy for Hamline to rake in more money, or is its purpose of flexible curriculum still the same, just with less options? Perhaps it is a mixture of both, but I still see it as a waste of time in our schedule. Why not just condense everything down and make for a shorter school year by getting rid of J-term completely? The reason why I argue for this is because no one was grandfathered into it. For those of us that came in with free J-term, being forced to now pay for it is unfair. What if someone was relying on J-term to graduate earlier and save money? Because of the costs, that may no longer be an option. I say it’s free or it goes.