JanTerm: to take or not to take?

JanTerm: to take or not to take?

Jillian Spaulding


It’s that time of year again, Poets; registration is upon us. There is one question that seems to be boggling a lot of our fellow students: whether or not to take a JanTerm. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, the College allows students to take one course between the Fall and Spring semesters, which is called JanTerm. During this time, Poets take a class that is usually three hours a day,  Monday through Friday. Many students, like myself, take the opportunity to travel abroad during this time, while others explore niche topics on campus. Though this is an optional semester, there are many benefits to taking a JanTerm. 

Screenshot from the JanTerm schedule of classes.  David Moreno/Quaker Campus

Screenshot from the JanTerm schedule of classes. David Moreno/Quaker Campus

When you sit down with your advisor, they will tell you that JanTerm is already factored into your tuition whether or not you take one, so it’s the obvious choice to enroll in one. If you’re already paying for it, you might as well get your money’s worth. What everyone neglected to tell me is that if you don’t take a JanTerm, you would have to take a minimum of 15 credits each semester, with no room for non-passing grades. If you cannot succeed with this, you will not be able to graduate from Whittier College in four years. As someone who has and continues to take the maximum credit load, I can tell you that it is too much for a single person with other responsibilities to sustain every semester. The semesters in which I’m bogged down by course loads are the times I am the most isolated and alone, so I highly encourage breaking up some of your schedules by taking a JanTerm.

 Another lure of JanTerm is the topics available to students. This is a time when professors teach their most niche interests, such as Associate Professor of English Sean Morris, who taught a course on Lord of the Rings last JanTerm, and  will be diving into Robin Hood this year. He is not alone, as Visiting Instructor in English Kate Durbin will teach her course on horror fiction and film again, along with many other professors. JanTerm is not only a time to dive into niche topics, but also to check boxes that might seem daunting during the regular term. Many Connections Two courses are offered during JanTerm, allowing students to fully focus on their science and math requirement that may be too much to handle with the rest of their course load. 

The option to study abroad is always available and highly encouraged at Whittier as well as in the workforce. Poets who entered Whittier after the Fall of 2016 were awarded a Global Poet Scholarship of $2000 to use toward study abroad programs; this is almost the full cost of many JanTerms abroad. The International Programs Office an amazing resource to reach out to is oip@whittier.edu located on the second floor of Platner. 

An argument against enrolling in a JanTerm course is that you can take a much needed break from school, but would you be so worn out if you didn’t have to take as many credits during the regular term, or if you took something you were truly interested in for that month? For those who can’t or don’t want to stay home during break, JanTerm is the perfect escape. Three hours a day is nothing when you have free range the other 21 hours in the day,  so make those three hours something that interests you, or something you wouldn’t usually take. Use this time to find a new passion, or get some credits out of the way so you won’t be as worried during the Spring.