Students prepare for J-term experience
December 7, 2011
J-term, or January Term, is fast approaching. It is a time for students to take classes in a shorter term, build friendships and experience Oklahoma Baptist University in a unique way. J-term is also required for first-year freshmen and is referred to as the “first year experience” by administration and academic advisors.
J-term classes are only three weeks long. They will begin Monday, January 2 and final exams are Friday, January 20. Housing opens Sunday, January 1, at 1:00 p.m. The R.A.W.C. and library will remain open for this abbreviated semester.
Available classes range from core to foreign languages to special trips. J-term offers many trips to other countries to learn, such as England and Costa Rica, just to name a few. Global Outreach trips count for J-term credit and also provide students an opportunity to serve on a mission trip. Classes usually cover specialized topics rather than all of the material that would normally be covered in the course of a full semester, but many general education and core curriculum classes are offered. A full list of available classes can be found on Banner. Because the semester is shorter, students are only allowed to take up to five credit hours without permission from his or her dean.
Tuition costs are different for J-term than the fall and spring semesters. “Tuition for J-term is $450 per credit hour,” said a representative from the Academic Center. This averages to about 25 percent less than a “normal semester.
“The 10-meal plan for students in the residence centers in $190. The meal plan for those staying in apartments is $65. Charges are not due until January and can be rolled into the spring payment plan.”
Some freshmen wish the complete costs for J-term were given before they enrolled. “I wish that the extra costs for J-term were included in the price that they give to freshmen, so they could plan how to pay it off better,” said freshman Auburn Powell. “When I enrolled for the fall, I had no idea that J-term was required because I never actually came for an official day where they give you the degree plans and talk about strategies; I came and scheduled a tour over the summer. It seems like everyone else knew that J-term was required, but not how much it would cost them.”
The intermediate semester is beneficial for many students wishing to accelerate their degree program in that J-term provides a chance for students to earn a few extra hours. Psychology, Family and Community Service major Mikela Brown said, “It’s an opportunity like the summer terms to make up classes. It’s an advantage that students can take to jump ahead or catch up if they need it.
It is also required for freshmen. “I am taking biology during J-term this year,” said Powell, “because I have to take a science class for my major. I figured I could get it out of the way while I still remember some of it from high school, and because I am required to stay because I am a freshman.”
It is a three-week semester, which means that the material will be covered faster. “It might be a little bit harder to get all of the information you need because the term is shorter,” said Brown, “but you will still get all of the information.”
J-term is intended to help keep freshmen enrolled from the fall to the spring semester. According to the Academic Center, “The J-term is an academic mini-term prior to each spring semester and is mandatory for first-time freshmen. The intent of the J-term is to strengthen the academic, social, relational and spiritual formation of freshmen in their collegiate experiences at OBU.” Other advisors have also intimated that by requiring freshmen to enroll in their first January session, it then sets the stage for timely graduation.
Freshmen have mixed feelings about staying. “In a way, I think it’s a good idea that the freshmen are required to stay, because it reminds them that there is still another semester and they need to keep plugged-in to school. But at the same time, you need a break because it is the first full year of college. I think it’s both good and bad; if it wasn’t required, then I wouldn’t come,” said Powell.
Many academic advisors offered some enrollment information for freshmen who are trying to decide which class to take. Freshmen can take advantage of three free courses that are offered.
“To mitigate the costs of a mandatory J-term requirement,” said the Academic Center, “select courses are offered tuition-free, and housing is provided free of charge for qualified students. The only additional costs associated with J-term for first-time freshmen are a meal plan and books.” The free classes available to freshmen include Topics in Religion: Christian Worldview, Success 101 and Success 102.
While these classes may not count toward all degree plans, they certainly help fulfill elective credits. For “first-year experience “ students enrolling in one of these free courses, they need only purchase a meal plan to fulfill their J-term financial obligation. But there are other options, of course. For the other courses (those which are not free) students can take a core “gen ed” required class, a class required for their major or any elective. Because many professors create special “topics” courses for this brief time period, many classes are offered then that are not normally available.
“I’m taking a specialized journalism course called ‘Journalism in the Media,’” Freshman Applied Communication major Robb Ringwald said. “I know it isn’t offered during the fall and spring, and I understand that the class will look at how the media depicts journalists both historically and currently, and we will watch some really great films. This will count as a division elective for me, so I am looking forward to it,” he said.
All topics classes are listed under the subject heading for each course. Online courses also fulfill the first-year requirement and may offer more flexibility for students’ schedules.
“This will be my first time going to J-term,” said Brown. “I am taking classes because it will give me four more credits and I would like to graduate as soon as possible. I would have enough credits without J-Term, but I want to graduate early.”
Freshmen are allowed to apply for an exemption to J-term. “Students,” said the Academic Center, “may apply for exemption from J-term by submitting a form requesting exemption to the Office of the Provost for consideration. Exemptions, however, will be rare and granted only in unusual circumstances.” The forms are available in the Academic Center. Some students who may be experiencing financial hardship or other familial obligations can apply for exempted status, but they are not guaranteed approval. Each case is decided individually.
Intramurals are also available during J-term. According to the OBU website, J-term leagues will include “4 Square,” Gotcha, Spades, Jungle Pong and Crazy Badminton. Registration for intramurals begins December 5 and end January 10. Each league costs one dollar for each player.