SGA researches optional 10-day term for January


    Students might soon be able to take extra classes and receive credit for them in a miniterm just before the start of spring semester.The idea is called a January term, and members of the Student Government Association are researching the possibility of implementing one at TCU, though Keith Whitworth, secretary for the Faculty Senate, said the idea needs more research before it could be considered.

    “It is a great idea to explore, but we do not have enough of the details figured out yet,” Whitworth said.

    The January term would be an optional 10-day session that would begin shortly after Jan. 1. Students would pay an hourly fee similar to summer school fees and would receive 1.5 to 3 hours credit for the courses they take, said Tori Hutchens, speaker of the House for Student Representatives.

    Hutchens said the term would be a way for students to explore subjects outside their majors, such as a hands-on economics development class in which students could study impoverished places around the TCU area, a short study-abroad class or even a poker for beginners class.

    “These classes could be electives you want to take but don’t necessarily need to graduate,” Hutchens said. “It would be a chance to take fun classes that aren’t offered during the regular school year.”

    SGA Treasurer Brian Andrew said he and Hutchens are researching January terms at other schools, such as the University of Virginia, Austin College and DePauw University, which offer service projects, internships and individual study projects each January.

    According to its Web site, Austin College is the only school with a two-week January term. The other two universities offer four-week courses because they operate on a trimester academic calendar year, rather than the traditional two-semester structure.

    Andrew said the January term would give professors a chance to expand on subjects they are interested in.

    “It would appeal to the love of learning for professors and students instead of just grades,” Andrew said.

    Andrew said classes offered would be up to the professors, but German professor Cynthia Chapa said she is unsure what students and professors could accomplish in 10 days.

    “I just don’t think two weeks would be enough time to go into depth on most subjects,” Chapa said.

    Hutchens said she thinks students would appreciate the availability of a January term because many work during the summer and don’t have time to take extra classes.

    However, some students did not express much interest in the idea.

    Erin Primm, a junior education major, said she would rather jump into classes at the start of the semester than take a short course before school begins.

    Freshman nursing major Danielle Desjardins said she would not want to pay to take an extra class.

    “I’d rather have more free time during my winter break than take a class just for fun,” Desjardins said.

    Hutchens and Andrew said they plan to survey students sometime this academic school year about the issue.