February 11, 2011
All freshmen students at Oklahoma Baptist University recently experienced their first January Term session thanks in large part to new OBU requirements which state that freshmen have to take a course during the interim semester.
J-Term, which isn’t common in most colleges in Oklahoma, allows for students to take up to six hours in between the fall and spring semesters.
This year marked the first that freshmen students were required to take at least one course during the interim period, with a couple of freshmen-only courses that were available free of cost.
Monica Mullins, OBU’s director of student success, taught two courses: Success 101 and Success 102, during the interim semester.
Both courses were offered free of charge to freshmen students and focused on “helping students examine past habits and experiences in an effort to modify their approach to their overall educational experience in an effort to improve scholarship, performance and satisfaction.”
Mullins and other professors attempt to squeeze a semester’s worth of classes and knowledge into three short weeks.
“I had the same goals for my courses that I do during the regular term,” Mullins said.
But freshmen were not limited to taking freshmen-only courses.
“I took Christian Worldview with Dr. [Michael] Clark and Beginning Spanish II with Dr. [Lucrecia] Litherland,” said freshman religion major Davey Billings.
“[Christian Worldview] fit perfectly with my interests, because I want to learn about different religions and what they believe about the world.”
But while he no doubt gleaned valuable information in both classes, Billings said he also felt the tight schedule took its toll on his experience.
“I liked the lectures they had every Monday, the speaker was fantastic and extremely informative,” Billings said. While he enjoyed the professorial aspect of the class, other elements were not as positive.
“The discussion time felt kind of shallow. We didn’t really get into the meat of the class with student discussion,” he said.
J-Term also means fewer students on campus, which could be a positive or a negative, depending on who is asked.
“It is debatable whether I would have taken J-Term if I wasn’t required to,” says Nathan Delaney, a freshman political science major. “But if I had the choice I would have taken it because it was fun to enjoy the campus with a lot fewer people. The food quality was also much higher and I would definitely take J-Term in the future.”
The option to take tuition-free classes was also a draw for some.
“J-term was a good experience and I am glad that I got to take a class like Christian Worldview,” said Elizabeth Norrie, a freshman history major.
“Having free classes was a great idea. I would take J-Term again in the future.”
Even some OBU upperclassmen regret not taking J-Term their freshman year.
“I wish I would have taken [J-Term] my freshman year because I wouldnt have had to my sophomore year,” Devin Warfield, a junior Bible major, said.“Civ was hard for me and I would have loved the long five week break in between Civ semesters.”
For Billings, the positives all outweighed the negatives, making his experience one that he would like to repeat again next year.
“Even if it was not required to go to J-term, I would have still taken a class,” Billings said.
“I enjoyed J-term a lot. It had more of a relaxed atmosphere. It felt more like life than school.
I could focus all my attention on fewer classes, which allowed more free time to be social and to explore around town. I will definitely take J-term classes in the future; I just hope that there are free classes offered.”
Mullins thinks J-Term is a very important time at OBU, especially for freshmen.
“Overall, I do think that J-term is good for Freshmen and I enjoy teaching courses with all freshmen,” Mullins said.